Jason Brown would not have believed it if he had been told a year ago that he'd be competing in the Sochi Olympics.
However, the 19-year-old from Highland Park, Illinois, earned his opportunity when he finished second in the U.S. Championships in Boston last month. Brown had a superb performance in the free skate and finished just a few points behind veteran skater Jeremy Abbott.
While Brown was 12 points behind Abbott after the short program, he finished a mere four points behind after a memorable long program that had the crowd at the TD Garden shouting and clapping to the Irish step dance music he used.
By the time his routine reached its conclusion, the 19-year-old Brown was incredulous. He had skated the program of his life, and he didn't even know he had that kind of performance in him.
While Brown has not always been sure of his all-around ability, his coach Kori Ade never had any doubts. She saw potential in her skater and convinced him that he was worthy, even though he finished eighth and ninth in the previous two national championships.
It started to come together for Brown during the last year, and it was his stellar execution that allowed him to put together a winning program. Brown is not the kind of athletic skater who is going to dazzle the crowd with a quadruple jump in his arsenal. He does not have that kind of explosive movement, but it does not handicap him when he is in the middle of one of his flawless routines.
His ability to execute all of his movements precisely is what led Ade to convince Brown that he was worthy of consideration for the Sochi Olympics. "I know my skaters' potential," Ade told Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune.
Brown did not share his coach's confidence and didn't think he was ready for the big time. But instead of thinking about the 2018 Olympics, he realized he could make it sooner, though he did not have a quadruple jump in his back pocket.
“It wasn’t until midway through this season when I started to believe it,” Brown told the Chicago Tribune. “My coach had been always trying to get me on that page: 2014, 2014, 2014. I’m realistic, and I didn’t even allow myself to think there, because I didn’t think I was ready. Over three years, I progressed and got more confident.”
One of the things that gave him confidence was the knowledge that 2010 Olympic skating champion Evan Lysacek was able to win gold at Vancouver without a quadruple jump in his repertoire.
While Brown is expected to compete in men's singles competition, he could also get an opportunity to perform in the free skate portion of the team competition.
Abbott skated the short program for the United States, but he fell during his routine. U.S. skating officials may decide to let the electric Brown have an opportunity.
No matter what happens in the Olympics, Brown is already one happy skater. He exceeded his own hopes just by making the Olympic team, and whatever happens from this point forward is just a bonus.