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Olympics / Sports

Jason Brown, 19, finishes out of the skating medal hunt, but he's a crowd favorite

SOCHI, Russia -- The common analysis on Jason Brown heading into this Olympics can be easily summarized.

No quad jump. No medal.

But that's right now. The future appears blindingly bright for Brown, who finished ninth in the Olympics without a quad jump.

How high can he soar when -- or maybe if -- he develops a quad? Remember, Brown is only 19.

"It's really exciting what I've been able to do without the quads," Brown said a few minutes after he finished his performance. "I have a huge excitement about what can happen in the future. Anything is possible. I really do feel that way."

Brown, a freshman at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs who trains in Monument, was asked if it's fair that a quad is virtually required to win an elite world skating competition.

"It's not fair or unfair," Brown said. What it is, he said is "a huge point getter."

Brown devised a routine in the short program that emphasized his gifts as a skater, and he performed with precision and confidence. He scored 86,00, finishing in sixth place and seizing attention as a skater to watch in the near future.

"I try to get points on everything else that I have," Brown said, speaking again about his lack of a quad jump. "That's something I really have to focus on."

He was less successful on Friday. He scored 152.38 in the free skate, finishing 11th. He was the final skater of the competition.

But Brown's enthusiasm was not squashed by his struggles. When asked if he enjoyed the opportunity to finish this Olympic skating show, he enthusiastically leaned his body into the question.

"It's so exciting!" he said. "To feed off that energy and to take that and to close the Olympic event with a bang and do what I do every day! I wanted to just have fun."

Crowds in Russia enjoyed Brown's show, too. The audience, an international mix with large collections of Canadian, Japanese, Russian and American fans, embraced his fresh, exuberant style.

Brown started as a showman early. He and his sister would sing and dance for friends and family. He started these shows when he was 2 years old, and he's never lost the thrill of performing for an audience.

Jeremy Abbott, 28, is drawing to the end of his competitive career just as Brown heads into his prime. Abbott, who finished 12th, never saw pressure burdening Brown at these Olympics.

"I think he's so on cloud nine, I don't think he even realizes what's going on," Abbott said.

Those words are meant as a compliment. Abbott believes Brown will continue to handle the "expectation and fear and pressure" with grace and poise.

"Jason is such a special kid and I really hope he can keep that innocence and that optimism because I really think it serves him well," Abbott said.

The Olympics were a happy circus for Brown. He met one of his skating heroes, Russian legend Evgeni Plushenko, and immediately told his idol how much he admired him.

"I'm a big fan of yours!" Brown said.

Plushenko responded by saying he was a big fan of Brown's work on the ice.

"It was so exciting!" Brown said.

A few days later, Brown delivered an imaginative, artistic performance in the short program, offering a glimpse of immensely good times that could be ahead.

"It's been such a whirlwind, " Brown said of this journey. "I learned so much every step of the way. To have this experience is something that is so thrilling and something I am going to take with me."

Brown has a vision for his career. He wants to compete in two more Olympics. He wants to earn a medal.

First, he needs to master that elusive quad jump.

(c)2014 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Visit The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) at www.gazette.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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