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Jason Brown’s family nervous for free skate, but know ‘he’s won already’

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SOCHI, Russia – Jason Brown’s family is careful not to get in anyone’s way when they come to watch him skate. In order to do so, they sit in the last row of the arena. As in the last, last row.

“I had to pull out binoculars last night,” 15-year-old Dylan told NBCOlympics.com Friday, laughing.

But the family is there for each and every skate of Jason’s, the viral sensation who has already helped win a bronze for the U.S. in the team event and Friday night will go for another medal after finishing sixth in the short program, less than a point out from third place.

They’re a bundle of nerves and excitement and they watch every moment of Jason’s skates – even when they’re tempted to look away.

“We might be watching through our fingers,” said Jason’s older sister, Jordan, 20.

VIDEO: Brown discusses his amazing journey

Nerves for parents and family members can oftentimes be more debilitating than for the athletes themselves at the Olympics. Evan Lysacek’s mom couldn’t bear to watch him skate because it made her so nervous. Aly Raisman’s parents swayed and white-knuckled in their seats during the London Games.

“At Nationals this year we were literally standing up holding one another,” Jordan said. “We were all shaking and crying at different parts of his skate.”

Yet now at the Olympics, the Browns – along with 14 other members of their extended family – have come to watch Jason at the sport’s biggest event, a dream that didn’t start to become a reality for Jason until just a few months ago, Jordan says, when he told her over dinner he thought he might make it.

“Being at the Olympics is just a pinnacle for him,” said his father, Steve. “I don’t know what happens next for Jason, none of us do. So to be here, I certainly want him to do well, but to me he’s won already.”

VIDEO: Jason Brown and his undeniable charisma

Brown is one of seven men within striking distance of a bronze medal Friday night, when he’ll skate at the very end of the line-up against skaters he’s long watched from the sidelines.

“He really idolizes these skaters that he’s competing against, competing with,” Marla, his mother said. “He’s going to want to walk away feeling good about his performance. He can’t control how many quads the other guys land.”

VIDEO: Patrick Chan’s quest for perfection

That’s the caveat: Even if Brown skates his best, he lacks figure skating’s quadruple jump, a points-heavy element that Brown hasn’t yet acquired, though he hasn’t needed it to get as far as he had.

Jordan, Jason and Dylan would often perform for their parents at home when they were kids, putting on shows and concerts and plays. An “extremely competitive” bunch, Jordan said, that would compare hand-writing skills and monkey-bar talents.

“Trust me, he’s competitive,” Jordan clarified. “It’s just very internal for Jason.”

Brown’s authentic energy – and ponytail – have made him a household name after his “Riverdance” free skate caught fire in January. Dylan tracked every view on the video that now totals over 3.5 million on YouTube, though Dylan said he stopped alerting Jason of milestones at the two-million mark. “I couldn’t keep calling him,” he admitted.

Jason will aim for another viral performance Friday night in Sochi, though medal or not, his family will be cheering – from way up high.

“The nice thing about being in the last row is that you’re not disturbing anyone,” Marla said. “You can stand up and scream and yell and cheer and it’s fine. So we do.”

“I think him feeling good about his skating is what is important to us,” Dylan added. “I’m more nervous about how he’s going to feel about his skate than where he ends up in the standings.”

Canada crushes U.S. in World Hockey Championship opener

Tyler Motte, Mark Stone
AP
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Canada beat the U.S. for the 39th time in 43 games in World Hockey Championship history, 5-1 in the biggest rout between the two rivals since 1997 in their Worlds opener in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Friday.

NHL players Brad MarchandTaylor Hall, Matt Duchene, Brendan Gallagher and Boone Jenner scored for Canada, which came back from a 1-0 deficit.

The U.S. had New Jersey Devils backup Keith Kincaid in goal. Canada started Edmonton Oilers No. 1 Cam Talbot, who allowed a first-period goal to Patrick Maroon.

The U.S., bronze-medal winner in 2013 and 2015, and reigning World champion Canada are in the same eight-team group at Worlds.

The top four teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals that begin May 19.

The U.S. next plays Belarus on Saturday. Full NBC Sports broadcast coverage information of Worlds is here.

MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups determined

Lindsey Vonn sails with America’s Cup champion (video)

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Lindsey Vonn continued her offseason tour by sailing with Oracle Team USA, winner of the last two America’s Cups, in the Hudson River in New York City on Thursday.

That came one day after Vonn joined Tom BradyJordan Spieth and Vanilla Ice at an Under Armour party in Baltimore.

Vonn is next expected to hit Louisville for this weekend’s Kentucky Derby.

NBC Sports will present live coverage of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series from New York at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday (NBC Sports Live Extra) and Sunday (NBCSN, Live Extra).

MORE: Vonn details ‘excruciating pain’ from season-ending crash