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Cohen in the lead (barely)

ON THE ICE: With U.S. flags waving and chants of "USA! USA!" rocking the arena, U.S. champion Sasha Cohen dazzled the judges with a sensational short program and slipped past world champion Irina Slutskaya of Russia by a slim .03 points.

Cohen's spectacular spirals and crisp footwork had the crowd clapping to the beat of Dark Eyes, a Russian folk tune. She flashed some attitude as she concluded a solid evening of skating by snapping her fingers and double-pumping her fists as if to say, "Top that."

"I just believed in myself," Cohen said. "To have something like this come out is really great. I am going to believe in myself and expect the best.

"When the numbers came up, I wasn't sure where I would be. To be in first, it was like "Wow, I did it, the judges did it. We did it together.' "

Japan's Shizuka Arakawa and Fumie Suguri were third and fourth, and American Kimmie Meissner was fifth. Emily Hughes, added to the U.S. team nine days ago when Michelle Kwan withdrew with a groin injury, finished seventh.

QUICK HIT: A win for Cohen would break Russia's stranglehold on figure skating golds at these games - Russians already have won the pairs, men's and dance competitions.

UP NEXT: Thursday, women's free skate.

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