CHICAGO -- If Jason Brown applied the old fable about the tortoise and the hare to his skating career, he would rewrite it so both were winners.
Brown has been very careful not to push himself too fast. He will not do jumps that might lead to injury and battered confidence if he were to put them in competitive programs before achieving consistent success on those elements in practice.
Yet the 19-year-old from Highland Park, Ill., thinks he is ready to jump ahead of the pack and earn a spot on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team, a goal that seemed premature only a year ago.
"As the season has gone on, I have gotten more and more confident I really can make the Olympic team and really get a U.S. (championships) medal and maybe even win a U.S. title," Brown said.
Brown finished eighth, ninth and ninth at the last three U.S. championships, finally getting a triple axel into his jump arsenal last year. He won't do a quadruple jump at the nationals beginning Thursday in Boston, where the top two finishers likely will earn the men's singles spots on the U.S. team at next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
If Brown makes it, he would be the youngest U.S. men's Olympic singles skater since 18-year-old David Santee of Park Ridge in 1976.
"My coach (Kori Ade) and I have talked about how we have to approach my career as a marathon and not a sprint," he said. "We don't want to push jumps too hard and risk injuries or (compromising) the integrity of my programs."
To dash past the seven men ahead of him in 2013 seems a formidable challenge. Yet reigning champion Max Aaron did exactly that a year ago, and Brown enters Friday's short program with more extensive and impressive senior-level credentials than Aaron had before his surprise triumph.
"(Max) shows anything is possible," Brown said.
Brown, a world junior championships medalist the last two years, comes into this competition after finishing fifth and third in the first two senior Grand Prix events of his career. He has the highest short program and total scores of any U.S. man this season.
His major asset is audience-grabbing artistry. At the Paris Grand Prix meet, a French writer's story for icenetwork.com said of Brown: "Two things come to mind when you take the ice: your pure line and edges, and the appeal you have on the audience as soon as you start skating."
Those qualities are why Brown figures he can make the Olympic team with no quad. He also is encouraged by Evan Lysacek having won the 2010 Olympics and 2009 worlds without one.
"He is a great role model for that scenario," Brown said.
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