Photos from Joseph Klein With Jason Brown speak for yourself.
Klein, just a kid in them, poses with a grin next to Brown, a Joseph half the size of the eventual two-time Olympic champion and 2015 US champion.
“I remember when he was a little bit doing Axels singles,” laughed Brown, now 28, on United States Figure Skating Championships (January 26-29) in San Jose, California. “Seeing him as an older man now, he looks older, he does, and his skating quality is absolutely beautiful. Seeing him grow from a little kid to where he is now is really exciting.”
Klein had admired Brown for as long as he could remember, sharing the same rink in the Chicago area before Brown moved to facilities in Colorado (where Klein would eventually go) and Toronto.
“He’s been my idol since I started skating at the age of three,” said Klein, now 18, beaming. “I saw him and thought, ‘This is what I want to be as a skater.’ And now I’m competing with him, which is pretty cool.”
Klein was out of contention for a medal in San Jose, finishing 13th out of 18 skaters. The 2021 junior national silver medalist, however, has high hopes for his skating career, perhaps even following in the footsteps of his childhood hero.
“I have a lot of goals, but I think I’m focusing more on short-term goals at the moment because I have a long journey ahead of me to get to where I want my full successes to be,” Klein said. “This year I’m going to try to get one of the places in the world junior team and next year we’ll see where I will be in the junior or senior grand prix.”
He continued, “Yeah, I mean, in the far future, my ultimate goal is to be on that Worlds team, to be on that Olympic team… But I have to get there.”
Klein wants to emulate Jason Brown’s “welcome aura”.
Although Klein has Olympic aspirations, he says Brown’s openness and encouragement are what meant the most to him as a skater from the same club.
“He was the kindest person I’ve ever met, and I don’t think I’ve met anyone who was more empathetic to everyone around him,” Klein said of Brown. “Growing up as a skater, I not only tried to get to where he was with his success in skating, but also who he was as a person because he’s just amazing.”
Prior to the US Championships where he took silver, Brown had not competed since 1999 Beijing 2022 Winter Olympicswhere he placed sixth. Although Klein had been to the previous three U.S. Championships as a junior, this was the first time he and Jason had been to the same event as the seniors.
“I’m excited to be at the party with him,” Brown said. “It was fun to watch her grow up. I’ve been rooting for him for years, so the fact that he’s at the Nationals is mind-blowing to me. I’m really happy with it.”
It is this spirit of leadership that Klein noted in Brown. Although he would like to reach the heights of his hero in competition, he
“I always try my best to create the same aura,” Jason explained. “He is friendly and encouraging, especially with all the younger children. I know the sport is harder for young boys and I think he was the person I looked up to as a young boy. And now I’m trying to emulate the position he gave me.”