American figure skater Jason Brown came into Thursday's short program with few expecting him to medal. The upstart 19-year-old proved those people wrong with a stellar run that will put him right in the thick of things going into the free skate.
Brown finished the first of his two individual runs with a score of 86.00, good for sixth place.
Men's event has just ended: @jasonbskates is 6th, and in the final warmup, which is terrific for him. Abbott is 15th.— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 13, 2014
The men's singles skate combines two disciplines, the short program and the free skate. On Thursday, the men will return for the four-and-a-half-minute free skate and the medalist will be determined by the top overall score. The short program carries less weight in the overall scoring, but it very often sets up well for skaters who can impress instantly on their run.
Brown entered these Games a wide-eyed pup getting his first taste of Olympic action. He has spoken openly about wrestling with his decisions about whether to move into senior competition, and an Olympic appearance was viewed as a secondary concern.
But a stellar start to his senior career—including a silver medal at the U.S. Championships earlier this year—landed him in Sochi. Since his arrival, Brown has continued his unassuming ways. He told
After winning a bronze medal in team skating with the United States, Brown seemed comfortable with his trip to Sochi being a success.
“To be on the medal stand with my teammates yesterday and to think a year ago I didn’t even think I was going to be skating in seniors competition?" Brown said, via ESPN's Jim Caple. “I didn’t think I was going to make the Olympic team. And now to have a medal?"
Considering the stiff competition in the field, it's hard to blame him. Canadian Patrick Chan, the world's top-ranked skater more than a year running, was widely considered the favorite to capture his first Olympic gold. And even Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan overshadowed Brown when it came to the teenagers in the field, with his sterling short program in team competition sending a clear message.
The United States has a deep stable of skaters, but none who was viewed as a lock for medal contention. The Associated Press did not pick any individual Americans to medal, though ice dancing pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White were selected as gold favorites.
However, Brown delivered a thrilling performance, as Juiet Macur of The New York Times discussed:
Gorgeous performance from Jason Brown. Such a joy to watch. How can you not love that kid?— Juliet Macur (@JulietMacur) February 13, 2014
For Brown, this Olympics was supposed to be mostly a learning experience. While no one is necessarily guaranteed a spot in the field, odds are Brown will be perhaps the highest-profile skater to make the trip to Pyeongchang for the 2018 Games. Most skaters' first Olympic chance is used to allow them to learn the ropes. Even Chan only finished fifth overall in 2010—and he was competing in his home country.
While Brown was not quite as heralded coming in, this is a fine start. If he can build on that and gain some confidence going into the free skate, he should place perfectly fine for a 19-year-old just getting his first chance.
Come 2018, though, look out.