Jason Brown he calls this year the year of yes.
After the American figure skater focused his energy on qualifying for his second Olympic Games in Beijing 2022Brown took his eyes off this unique approach as he explored the various opportunities that came his way after the Olympics.
But the 28-year-old is just as curious as skating fans to see what’s next for him.
“Only time will tell,” he said olympics.com about his pending return to the ice. “But what I can say is that every opportunity I’ve taken has only motivated me to compete more and given me more energy…as opposed to feeling like I’m constantly running out.”
The United States Figure Skating Championships this weekend (January 26-29) in San Jose, California will be his first official competition since the Winter Olympics, the 2015 national champion missing the international Grand Prix series in the first half of the season.
In an exclusive interview, he detailed the difficult road to Beijing, which actually left him feeling exhausted, although he finished a career-best sixth, finishing ninth in the Sochi 2014.
He is now trying a new path, riding around 50 shows and taking part in various tours during the summer months in the United States, Japan and beyond, combining show riding with competition training.
He wonders if he can maintain that balance for… well, how long will it be possible.
“I can’t keep up with the level of training I’ve been doing when I’ve been competing all year,” Brown said of his ice regime. “But I also know that I have more in me. So it was a way to keep pushing, keep performing, keep fit… After the year is over, we’ll see how likely that is. But if so, I’d like to continue skating. I love it.”
Jason Brown returns to San Jose with a new attitude
Returning this weekend means a lot to Brown, who will be competing at the same venue in San Jose where he failed Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic team, finishing in a disappointing sixth place.
“When I competed in San Jose in 2018, it was really hard… I sort of imploded,” recalls Brown. “I wanted to come back to prove to myself that I had the courage to return to this arena, a place that had terrified and haunted me for the last five years.”
He added, “Part of me felt that this year I wanted redemption.”
How exactly Brown will behave under the pressure of a rated event is something that he and the coaches have to deal with Tracy Wilson and Brian Orser they want – and want – to find out. His results at Nationals could help pave the way on the ice, where Brown is open to a mix of exhibition skating with routine training and competition-based events.
Even, he said, with Milan Cortina 2026 be a possibility.
“Four years is a long time to think [ahead]Brown said with a laugh. “I think it’s a constant ebb and flow. If I do that, if I can still train, still compete…then I think you have to keep asking questions and be open to continuing. [to it]”.
Brown went back to his more blind analogy, describing the kind of mental and emotional focus needed to prepare and qualify for Beijing.
“If I had to define the mindset for the next four years, [of] I’m going to put my blinders back on… I don’t have it in me,” he said. “So it would have to be an alternative way.”
Reflection on Beijing – and skating in the present
It’s a quad Axel-jumping teenager Ilia Malinin who will be the favorite at the upcoming US Championships, the 18-year-old who shone at the same event a year ago and disrupted the Team USA Olympic team selection process by unexpectedly winning a silver medal there.
He overtook Brown (4thp) and third place winner Vincent Zhou at the event, but Malinin had almost no international experience on his resume and Brown had a strong season, winning two Grand Prix medals after finishing seventh at the 2021 World Championships.
The whirlwind of discussions surrounding Brown’s Olympic selection followed him to Beijing, he said, and shook what he saw as a firm foundation around him and his team: “What I’m most proud of at the Beijing Olympics was that I was able to skate and just go out there and do your thing,” he said.
“I felt like I was constantly battling critics and constantly trying to prove something,” he added. “But when I stepped on the ice, I thought, ‘I’ve been working too hard … let it all go away and just do your job.’ I had too much respect for my team and what we put into it.
“As an experience, it was really hard.”
Brown has been open about the work he has done with his mental health in the past, and said he was grateful for turning to that part of himself as an athlete to deal with situations like this – including what Beijing brought up.
This is part of why he’s unsure of what’s coming next, and why he’s focused on not obsessing over trying to figure it out before it happens.
“I love the tour we’re on, but I’m still having conversations with her [coach] Tracy: “Did it work? Didn’t it work? “Okay, this drove me and this didn’t…” he said.
“There are ongoing talks. If I manage to run this year – and I don’t mean it’s performance-based – I mean, “Can I do it the healthy way?” Am I motivated? Do I love it? And if so, and I can do it this way, being balanced, I don’t see myself stopping or having a hard stop. But that remains to be seen.
Jason Brown: “Yuzu pushes me to be a better skater every day”
Brown on skating on Hanyu Yuzuru’s “notte stellata” show
Two-time Olympic champion earlier this month Hanyu Yuzuru revealed that he will hold a special ice skating show in his hometown of Sendai, Japan, to commemorate the 12th anniversary ofp anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake that hit the region in 2011.
It’s called “notte stellata,” which means “starry night” in Italian, and is an ode to the still sky above Miyagi Prefecture after the earthquake and tsunami.
Brown – along with a small group of other skaters – was invited to participate in the show.
“I got an email in my inbox and as soon as I read it I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m there for you,'” explained Brown. “The whole concept of the show is about creating a bright future and combining elements that are uplifting and motivating. I thought, “Done.” I am with you 100 percent. And I just know what it means [Hanyu]. It was very, very exciting to receive this email and very easy to respond to.”
Hanyu and Brown shared ice training Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club for two years competing together on the international circuit.
“It was really amazing to be able to train with him for two years and be able to come out of this kind of closed training environment to see him at a competition and say, ‘Wow.’
He said of Hanyu’s impact on sports and beyond: “He’s become that force and he’s very influential. What he has created and the range he has… it’s unbelievable. It’s hard to describe why someone has this “it” factor. People are drawn to him.”
Brown was on a Japanese tour when news broke that Hanyu was retiring from competitive skating, and he said that you couldn’t go anywhere without watching TV screens on the news, and his face was sprayed with newspapers and magazines.
“I don’t think I can be more grateful for the competition in his era,” added Brown. “So the fact that I can continue and do it professionally, I’m really grateful. What he brings to the sport and the way he has attracted such a fan base, I salute him and what he does. I can’t wait to see [the show] and be part of something he’s creating on the professional side.”
Jason Brown: Skating right now
Is this the last time fans see Brown on competitive ice?
Even he isn’t sure. And he’s fine with it.
“It doesn’t have the same burden I have on me” as in the past, he said. “Whether I make a world team or not, [win a] medal at the national championships or not, my approach is now something like “in the moment,” he said.
The Hanyu show is scheduled for March 10-12, featuring, among others, World Cup scheduled for just over a week later in Saitama, Japan. Could Brown potentially make a trip to Japan for both?
“Good, bad, whatever. I’m happy to be there and I love what I do. It’s a win-win situation.”