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Jason Brown didn’t think he’d make PyeongChang without a quad, sees season as stepping stone

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Jason Brown spoke with NBCSports.com/figure-skating in Detroit after winning bronze at the 2019 U.S. Championships about his goals for the rest of the season, the brand-new World Team jacket he donned, and what bugs the Sochi Olympian the most about not ever landing a clean quadruple jump in competition.

How do you feel about the championships overall?

I feel great. It was a big stepping stone. I’ve just been adapting and changing so much this season that each step of the way I’ve learned something and been able to take something new from each experience. I’m super proud of the growth that I’ve made this season coming from my first event at Autumn Classic to now, I’m just a completely different skater. I’m so proud of that. I’m just looking forward to continuing that through the rest of the season.

Nice new World Team jacket. Did you expect to be on the world team?

It wasn’t even a goal as far as overall goals. Obviously, you don’t ever not want to be on the world team! I was so focused on the day to day process that we were going through and all the changes. Especially with such a rough start, at the beginning of the year, I really didn’t have expectations as much as I wanted to stay committed to the changing process.

So no, but that being said, I came into this event and I looked at Tracy [Wilson, his coach along with Brian Orser] and I was like, ‘All I wanna do is be at more events so I can have more opportunities to travel with you guys to keep learning.’

The only way to get experience with competition with new coaches are at competition with new coaches! I was like, ‘I just wanna travel with you and Brian more and more!’ When I found out I get two more events with them, I was like, ‘yes!’ That makes me even more excited than the fact that it’s Worlds. I’m so excited that it’s Worlds and it’s in Japan. But I’m just excited that I get another opportunity to keep putting all these changes to the test.

Was another goal you had this season to hold onto your artistic qualities?

Absolutely. I think one of the things that drew me to Tracy and Brian was the fact that they didn’t just look at me as a technical project. They weren’t just like, ‘Okay, we need to work on your jumps.’ Which obviously, we’re working a ton on. But they looked at it as like, ‘We want to continue growing you as an artist on the ice. And keep working on the in-between skating and taking this new judging system and really maximizing these plus-fives.’ Threes aren’t good enough! I want all fours and fives – and even then, I want all fives. They’re really pushing me to be the absolute best version of myself on every single element I’m doing. They’re really looking at quality and that goes down to the skating skills. I love that they pay so much attention to that.

Have you thought about differences training at altitude [in Colorado Springs] compared to now, training in Toronto?

I have to say I didn’t really feel it. I went to Champs Camp this year and it was my first time doing it, the team camp, not having lived in Colorado.

I couldn’t even barely get through the programs. But I know it’s in August, so it is very early on, but that was very shocking to me. Normally, what I can do at home, I can do there.

As the season’s gone on I haven’t really noticed the difference. When I was training in Colorado, the biggest difference was that I was never concerned about the endurance whenever I went somewhere else. I was always like, there are other things to worry about, and endurance wasn’t a thing.

Now, not being at altitude, I’m thinking about, ‘Oh now the endurance. What’s it gonna be like?’ Every time I find out I’m competing at altitude, I’m like, ‘Aah… see how it goes.’ But I’m trained. They’ve trained me well.

Do you get sick of defending quad-less programs? Annoyed?

Unfortunately… not even unfortunately, because I think it’s also made me the skater that I am today. Throughout most of my career I’ve always been a step behind in jumps. I’ve been asked and asked and asked and asked.

I do have to say the only times that it gets frustrating is when it affects me. When I’ve allowed it to make me feel less of a competitor and less of a skater, feel like I don’t deserve spots because I don’t have the technical difficulty. That’s not other people putting on me, I think it just… you hear it.

Even if I give some excitement about [the quad], ‘oh it’s going well,’ they look at me and they’re like ‘mmm, are you sure?’ It makes you question it.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of that got to me last season. I really truly believed in my heart that there wasn’t a spot for me on the Olympic team unless I could land a quad in competition. That’s the only time where I think it affects me negatively.

So no, I don’t mind at all. But if I start to let it affect me, which I did unfortunately last season, then it gets overwhelming. If I can stay strong… it’s your job as journalists! I don’t look at it any other way than like… if you didn’t ask me about it, that’s part of the sport. It’s part of the job.

MORE: Costume drama: Jason Brown’s apparel odyssey

As a reminder, you can watch the world championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Canadian ice dancers overcome hair-raising wardrobe malfunction

Piper Gilles, Paul Poirier
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Ice dancer Piper Gilles‘ hair got caught in partner Paul Poirier‘s costume during the Canadian Championships rhythm dance, but the couple still posted the top score in Mississauga, Ontario, on Friday.

As they spun together, Gilles’ hair appeared to catch on one of Poirier’s shirt buttons. It stayed that way for about five seconds as the couple nearly came to a stop before Poirier untangled it. What was Gilles thinking?

“Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap,” she said later. “It’s probably more swear words to that, but crap at that moment.

“It was like one of those pure panic moments, like, what do I do? Do we stop? Do we keep going? Paul’s like, just keep moving.”

Gilles and Poirier scored 88.86 points, taking an 11.6-point lead into the free dance.

The couple eyes their first national title after finishing second or third seven times in the last eight years behind Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.

Gilles and Poirier rank fifth in the world this season.

The panicky moment Friday was reminiscent of the PyeongChang Olympics, where French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis‘ dress strap broke, exposing her breast. Papadakis and partner Guillaume Cizeron took silver and have been undefeated since.

MORE: Figure skating season TV schedule

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Allison Schmitt opens 2020 in fast form, bidding to join U.S. Olympic legends

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Allison Schmitt, after failing to qualify for world championships teams, revealing a battle with depression and taking nearly two years off competition post-Rio, has a chance to swim at her fourth Olympics this summer. And to do it in an individual event for the first time since 2012.

Schmitt won the 200m freestyle in 1:56.01 at the Tyr Pro Swim Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday night.

The time would have ranked second among Americans in 2019 behind Katie Ledecky. Ledecky is not swimming in Knoxville, but the 2012 Olympic champion and American record holder Schmitt beat Simone Manuel by 1.24 seconds.

“Wish I could say I was tapered, would make it feel a lot easier,” Schmitt said on NBCSN. “Getting better every time I jump in the water and swim in finals.”

Schmitt’s time marked her fastest outside of a major summer meet since the 2012 London Games. She’s bidding to become the third U.S. woman in her 30s to swim an individual event at an Olympics, joining 12-time medalists Dara Torres (who swam in her 40s) and Jenny Thompson.

Full Knoxville results are here. Broadcast coverage of the meet continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Swimmers are preparing for June’s Olympic trials, where the top two per individual event qualify for the Tokyo Games, plus extra 100m and 200m free swimmers for relays.

In other events Friday, 18-year-old Carson Foster took the men’s 200m free in 1:47.74, beating the U.S.’ top 400m freestyler, Zane Grothe, by 1.33 seconds.

Foster, younger than any U.S. Olympic male swimmer since a group including Michael Phelps in 2000, is better known for his individual medleys. But the 200m free offers up to six Olympic spots when including the 4x200m free relay.

“Any event where there’s more spots on the line this summer is an event I want to train for,” said Foster, who ranked outside the top 10 in the U.S. in the 200m free in 2019 and beat a field Friday that included none of the six fastest.

Annie Lazor won the 100m breaststroke in 1:06.68, a time congruent with her No. 2 ranking in the U.S. last year behind Olympic champion and world-record holder Lilly King. King, who trains with Lazor, is not competing in Knoxville.

In the 100m butterfly, 29-year-old Amanda Kendall upset top-ranked American Kelsi Dahlia in 57.65 seconds. Regan Smith, the fastest backstroker in history, was second in a personal-best 57.86, followed by Dahlia.

MORE: Australian swim star issues plea after hometown hit by fires

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