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

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