Ice Network

Jason the dream: Brown's life as a senior begins

Rapid success puts jovial Trophée Bompard medalist in Sochi contention
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Jason Brown and coach Kori Ade take in the spectacular Paris scenery during the 2013 Trophée Eric Bompard, where Brown captured the bronze. -courtesy of Jason Brown

Jason Brown made his senior international debut this fall, and later will attempt to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. He's keeping a season-long blog for icenetwork. 

NEBELHORN TROPHY

Nebelhorn Trophy marked my first international event as a senior man. The competition took place in Oberstdorf, Germany, a beautiful town in the valley of the Bavarian Alps, which is a haven for skiers, hikers, and cows :) It was truly an event I will never forget, which included competing alongside one of my favorite skaters, Nobunari Oda. Now hearing about his retirement from competitive skating makes me appreciate even more the opportunity to be at an event with him. Nobunari could not have been more friendly, gracious, supportive and joyful. His warm, humble attitude, after everything he's accomplished, makes me respect him as a person and athlete even more. When the men's event was over, he even helped me cheer on the U.S. dance team (Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue) dressing up in the red, white and blue paraphernalia I brought and shouting with us!

Nebelhorn Trophy was the final 2014 Olympic qualification event for the countries that had not secured a spot for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Competing in Oberstdorf gave me the opportunity to watch and be a part of the Olympic journey of so many athletes from all around the world. The atmosphere was filled with Olympic spirit and so much emotion amongst all the competitors trying to secure an Olympic berth. The audience was electrifying, cheering anytime a contender for one of the remaining five male spots would skate. It was a gift to represent the USA here, and the experience just brightened the fire in my eyes and passion in my heart to one day make the U.S. Olympic team. Being a part of the experience is something I will always cherish; winning my first international medal (silver) as a senior was the cherry on top.

My journey as a senior man had begun, and my experience in Germany could not have motivated me more than it did!

SKATE AMERICA!

The morning after I got home from Germany, Kori Ade (my coach) called, telling me that there had been a change of plans and that I would be leaving for Detroit for Skate America in two weeks. Three days later, I woke up in the middle of the night finally realizing what had just happened. "I was going to Skate America!" I instantly called my best friend Sara who is always up at the craziest hours and we both were freaking out, unable to grasp the idea of my actually competing on the Grand Prix circuit, still perceiving me as that little, 6-year-old, shaggy-haired, rowdy boy when we first met at the rink. 

Skate America was amazing. Everywhere I turned, there were athletes from all over the world that I've looked up to and have watched on TV and the internet for years! 

Other U.S. skaters would always tell me how incredible it is to compete at an international competition in front of your home crowd, and I never quite understood what they meant until I competed in Detroit. It was such an honor to be there and to skate for the crowd. From the excitement after the short to the flaws in my free, the lessons I learned and gained could not have been more necessary for my growth this season. Although not always easy, looking back at the experience, I know it was what I needed to happen for me to climb up to the next step in my career as an athlete in this sport. From the minute I found out to the conclusion of the event, I can't express how much everyone's support and love meant to me. 

I know the entire skating world, including me, was sad to hear about the current Olympic champion, Evan Lysacek, withdrawing due to injury. I have so much respect for him and the athlete and advocate he has become for our sport. It was hard to hear he wouldn't be competing.

TROPHÉE ERIC BOMPARD

I will forever cherish my experience in Paris. I truly enjoyed every moment ... including rooming with John Coughlin! It definitely took me a while to wrap my brain around rooming with a national champion and someone I've admired for years. I was quite starstruck at first. 

The rink was beautiful, with blue boards and wall coverings on the inside, and a glass and mosslike exterior! The rink was a complete maze. I found myself constantly getting lost in the hallways, running around trying to find my way to the places I needed to go. The stands were filled during the events. It was so exciting to skate in front of the wonderful French crowd. I was overwhelmed by their generous and loving support. They added such a special effect to the event for the athletes. It was truly an honor performing there. 

Paris gave me the opportunity to take what I had learned three weeks prior at Skate America and apply it to my skates here. To finish the event in third, sharing my first Grand Prix podium proudly beside Patrick Chan and Yuzuru Hanyu was an unforgettable moment. 

Having never been to Paris, my mom made sure to plan an extra day to sightsee, and I'm so thankful that she did! Paris is such a magnificent city. We took tours by bus and boat, walked all around the city, climbed the Eiffel Tower, ate crepes while strolling down the Champs Élysées, danced through the elaborate halls of the metro, and admired the architecture and enormity of Notre Dame, the Louvre and Arc de Triomphe.

I feel so fortunate to have been given these opportunities this year. I am already looking forward to the 2014 Grand Prix series :) 

MY FIRST CHRISTMAS

With the U.S. championships early this year, some skaters who train away from their families were unable to go home for the holidays, such as my roommate, Karina (novice dance). This year would be the first time she would be away from her family on Christmas, and I knew she was a bit bummed about it. I, being Jewish, had never celebrated Christmas, but I was on a mission to make hers as special as I could. 

I started with waking her up with her favorite Starbucks while I set up FaceTime with her family back home. We made her mom's special Swedish pancake recipe while Christmas songs played throughout the house. We opened presents under the tree, watched the Christmas movie, Love Actually, and made some pretzel and rolo/Reese's/chocolate mint bites which we later brought over to my coach Kori's house for a Christmas dinner with her family! We finished the night dancing and singing around the Christmas tree back at our house. 

What surprised me the most was the way in which celebrating with her made my day so special and memorable. I got to see the everlasting childish joy when a person wakes up on Christmas morning to presents under the tree, and I got to feel it when I walked upstairs shocked to find presents with my name on them, a card from Santa and a filled stocking! I was almost in tears when Karina opened her first package to find her childhood stocking completely filled from her parents. Just earlier that week, she had told me that was one of her Christmas traditions she was going to miss most! 

Christmas was so much more than presents and songs. It's a time where everyone has an excuse to stop what they are doing in their hectic lives and be with one another. Families reunite and bond! It's the day where traditions are made and families rejoice in happiness. The day where no one has a care in the world and you get to spend it with the people you love. It's the day that I didn't know how special it was until Karina showed me what Christmas was all about.

U.S. CHAMPIONSHIPS LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY!

In less than a week, skaters from around the country are going to be arriving in Boston to compete in this year's U.S. championships. By the end of the event, the U.S. figure skating Olympic team will be announced. It shocks me how fast the event has approached, but I could not be more excited! Each competition this year has taught me more and more, and I've worked hard to integrate the lessons I've learned into every program and practice session I skate. This U.S. championships marks the first of, hopefully, three Olympic qualifying events I will be a part of, and I feel very trained and ready to give it my all. 

Four years ago, I was a junior in Spokane, Wash., watching the senior men take the ice competing for an Olympic spot. I remember it so vividly; the atmosphere was filled with an intense, nervous, excited, anxious, amazing energy that I still have a hard time describing. The crowd was silent as the final group of skaters in each discipline took to the ice to start their programs. Nothing could compare to that eruption from the standing crowd, surrounding those skaters who were alone on the ice in tears knowing that they've just put out the skate they've spent countless hours training for. I was sitting there with Kori watching, feeling, and experiencing it all!

Sitting by her side, I was overwhelmed after Jeremy Abbott skated a skate no one will ever forget to make his first Olympic team and winning his second U.S. title! We watched as Mirai Nagasu, skating last in the ladies event, went out determined and focused like none other, skating her way to Vancouver, bringing the crowd to its feet!

It's crazy to think that this year I won't be in the crowd watching, but I'll be standing on the ice with my coach next to the rink's entrance. I will be that skater alone on the ice, and I can't wait to experience it from the other side of the boards. 

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