U.S. men make up half of the field at the most exclusive event in figure skating, two months before the Olympics.
Jason Brown was added to next week’s six-skater Grand Prix Final after Jin Boyang of China withdrew, the International Skating Union said Friday.
Jin said before finishing fourth at last week’s Skate America that he had two sprained ankles, according to Icenetwork.com, but the ISU did not provide a reason for Jin’s withdrawal.
Brown, a Sochi Olympian and the 2015 U.S. champion, joins 2016 U.S. champion Adam Rippon and 2017 U.S. champion Nathan Chen in the Grand Prix Final at Nagoya, Japan.
The last time the U.S. had three men in the Grand Prix Final was 2009 — Evan Lysacek, Jeremy Abbott and Johnny Weir, who went on to make up the Olympic team two months later.
The Grand Prix Final, usually the single biggest indicator of Olympic medal prospects two months before the Winter Games, is lacking serious star power this year.
Jin, who took bronze at the last two world championships, is the latest absentee.
Yuzuru Hanyu, Javier Fernandez and Patrick Chan, who combined to win the last seven world championships, won’t be in Nagoya, either.
Hanyu (ankle) and Chan withdrew from their second fall Grand Prix series starts. Fernandez was shockingly sixth in his Grand Prix opener, reportedly slowed by a stomach bug, denting his shot at making the Final even though he won his second start.
The Grand Prix Final field is headlined by world silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan and Chen, who rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this season. Chen won silver at this event last season in his international breakout.
The 22-year-old Brown goes to his first Grand Prix Final after a few agonizing misses.
In 2014, Brown was the youngest U.S. Olympic male singles skater since 1976. Later that year, Brown missed the Grand Prix Final by .16 of a point. He took silver at his first qualifier but stumbled to fifth at his second event.
In 2015, Brown would have made the Grand Prix Final with a runner-up finish at the Grand Prix of Japan. But he withdrew before the event with a back injury.
Then last season, Brown would have made the Grand Prix Final by placing third at the Grand Prix of Japan. But he was seventh, slowed by right leg soreness that eventually developed into a stress fracture.
This season, Brown again set himself up well with a runner-up at his first Grand Prix. But he missed the podium at his second event and ended up the first alternate.
Russians Mikhail Kolyada and Sergei Voronov round out the Grand Prix Final field.
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