Brown edges out Farris for junior men's title
Diminutive Chicagoan charms crowd
|Jason Brown topped the junior men's podium in Spokane. (Michelle Harvath)|
By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(01/18/2010) - Jason Brown may stand just 5'1" tall, but his personality is big enough to touch everyone in a 10,000-seat arena. That's just what the 15-year-old from Chicago did tonight, grabbing the Spokane crowd with winning personality and flair until they rose as one after his final combination spin. "My coach [Kori Ade] runs performance seminars, and we really work how to put on a game face and get the full package," Brown said. That focus paid off big, as Brown edged out two Colorado Springs-based skaters, 2009 novice champion Joshua Farris and short program leader Max Aaron, for the junior men's title. Performing to selections from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, Brown opened his program with a double Axel and triple Lutz, triple toe combination, followed by five other triples as well as a double Axel, double Axel sequence. His fluid stroking and expressive style was as impressive as his jumps, and he earned 133.12 in his free and 195.22 points overall, the second-highest junior men's score ever recorded at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. (Adam Rippon holds the record with 213.76 points). "Once a week, a modern dance teacher comes in and we work on stretching and movement," he said. "I wasn't even supposed to move up [to juniors] this season, but my coach worked with me to look more like a junior and more mature." Ade confirmed that Brown would remain at the junior level next season. "Jason is going to be the smallest one out there for a while, and we're working on his speed," she said. "Those senior guys have a mile on him. And of course, there's the triple Axel." "I really want to add the triple Axel to my programs next season," Brown agreed. "I also want to do a Junior Grand Prix. I've wanted a Team USA jacket since I was five years old." Farris, fourth after the short, won the free skate with a mature, technically superior program to "Warsaw Concerto" that included a solid triple Axel, followed by a slightly flawed triple Lutz-triple toe and six more triples. He ended with 195.03 overall. "I had the best of my life and one of the greatest skates of my life," Farris said. "This is the first time this season I've gotten credit for the triple Lutz, triple toe." The 15-year-old, who is home schooled, said training in Tom Zakrajsek's group motivates him every day. "Ryan [Bradley] is so funny; if you're having a really bad day, he always cheers you up," Farris said. "Brandon [Mroz] and Rachael [Flatt] are so competitive, they're really good to have jumping contests with. Alexe Gilles is like my big sister." Farris said he and Zakrajsek had not yet discussed whether he would move up to the senior level next season. Aaron, who trains alongside Farris, also had an impressive technical outing, hitting a triple Lutz, triple toe for the first time in competition. Although the powerful skater turned out of his triple Axel, he landed six other triples, two in combination. He placed third in the free and third overall with 191.86. "Even though that was the first time I [competed] the triple, triple, I did it so much in practice, I was pretty confident with it," Aaron said. The 17-year-old plans to move up to the senior level next season. "I can't wait," he said. Scott Dyer, a superb spinner, took fourth place in his first trip to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships since 2007. The 18-year-old, on the comeback trial after heel surgery in 2008, also plans to move up to the senior level next season.