Ice Network

The Inside Edge: Brown fights nerves in 'Ice Chips'

Back fully healed, former U.S. champion performs in SC of Boston show
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Jason Brown (left), Mirai Nagasu and Miner backstage during the intermission at "Ice Chips." -Sarah S. Brannen

When Jason Brown took the ice in front of a full house at the Skating Club of Boston's "Ice Chips" show, it marked the first time he had performed since the fall. The crowd greeted him with happy screams, and Brown delivered an exuberant program to Jamiroquai's "Canned Heat," complete with a triple flip, a triple lutz and his stunning split jump.

During the intermission, Brown admitted to some butterflies. He had last skated in front of an audience at the Ice Challenge in Graz, Austria, last October. Shortly afterward, a back injury worsened to the point where he had to cut his season short.

"It was the first time I have performed in 5 1/2 months," Brown said. "To be in front of an audience, and to be healthy, it was awesome -- it was amazing! It was something that I've been waiting for, and because it was the first, I got a little jittery. I had the nerves. It's so much fun, and it was great to be in front of a crowd again."

Brown skated to Sam Smith's "Writing's on the Wall" to close out the show, including a triple toe and triple lutz in the routine.

Skating on her 23rd birthday, Mirai Nagasu also guest-starred, while hometown boy Ross Miner was the third headliner. The day before the first show, the three visited some young patients at Boston Children's Hospital.

"We met a few kids, which was actually really fun for all of us," Nagasu said.

Nagasu, of course, had recently competed in Boston at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships. She is looking forward to taking a vacation after an unexpectedly long season. (Nagasu was the alternate for worlds and didn't get called on to compete until late March, after Polina Edmunds withdrew.)

"After Four Continents, I took a little bit of a break, because I thought I was done for the season, which was probably good for me," she said. "I definitely plan to take a vacation; I want to go to Thailand."

Nagasu said that she has never taken a vacation that didn't involve skating.

"I wasn't raised in a culture where we take vacations -- especially because my parents are in the restaurant business, and you never get a break from it," she said. "But as I get older, I realize that taking breaks is probably good for my mental psyche, so I'm looking forward to doing that."

At the world championships, Nagasu raised a huge cheer from the crowd just by smiling at the start of her program. She went a little more serious at the Bright Arena for "Ice Chips," skating an intense program to "I Put a Spell on You" in the first half. For her second number, she brought back her quiet, dreamy On Golden Pond program, choreographed by Adam Rippon.

Nagasu wore gorgeous costumes, as she always does. Asked in the dressing room who made them, Miner piped up: "I did!"

"Ross meticulously beaded every single crystal," said Nagasu, going along with the joke.

"I picked each stone," Miner said, deadpan. "There's usually two or three in each gross of stones that I was OK with."

"He doesn't like to buy them in bulk," Nagasu said. "He likes to pick them out individually, so he has to go to the bead store. And it's more costly when you pick them out one at a time, but he has to make sure each one is perfect."

"Perfection has its price," Miner said.

Comedy routine over, Nagasu confirmed that Pat Pearsall made her costumes.

This was Miner's 13th appearance in "Ice Chips," and he was a good enough sport to skate in the opening and the all-boys number, as he always does. For his solo, Miner did a nice triple salchow and triple flip in a very entertaining program to Ed Sheeran's "Sing," choreographed by Adam Blake.

This year, Miner took on a new role: He and pairs skater James Morgan hosted the show, introducing some of the higher-level skaters and chatting with them a bit before they skated. He and Morgan also led a "Happy Birthday" singalong for Nagasu, complete with a cake and candles.

Introducing the diminutive crowd-pleaser Philip Baker, Morgan mentioned that the seventh-grader had skated in the opening ceremony at worlds.

"It was a little nerve-wracking, but it was exciting," said Baker, who is mentored by Miner. He won the pewter medal in the juvenile division at the 2016 U.S. Championships.

U.S. junior medalists Kevin Shum and Megan Wessenberg seemed thrilled to be skating in front of local supporters. Shum is a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and skated on the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) circuit. Wessenberg made her international debut at JGP Poland last fall.

"I got one of the best donuts I've ever had in my life there," she said, laughing.

Morgan and partner Alexandria Shaughnessy skated to Faith Hill's "Breathe." National competitors Heidi Munger, Gabriella Izzo, and Kay Bergdolt and Miles Addison also performed, as did U.S. juvenile pairs bronze medalists Cate Fleming and Jedidiah Isbell. Matt Lind produced and directed the show.