Following the World Championships, we had the opportunity to interview Jason Brown and discuss his season and his new direction after the Olympics. This phase of his career has been marked by shows, competitions, and various projects, all of which he shared with us.
How would you describe your experience at the World Championships?
Jason: It was great! Throughout this year, I had the opportunity to perform in various shows in Japan, which helped me regain my confidence in front of an audience. I was genuinely excited about competing at Worlds and delivering a memorable performance for the Japanese audience. While I had hoped to achieve a score of 98 or 99 in the short program, as my personal best stood at around 97, the new rules regarding spins and component marks presented additional challenges. Nonetheless, it has been a rewarding week, and I'm proud I got a new personal best in the long program.
You decided not to compete in the Grand Prix Series but later returned to competitive skating for the US Nationals and the World Championships. Can you explain how and when you made that decision?
Jason: Initially, I didn't plan on competing again after the Olympic Games. I was thinking about retirement, but I wanted time to consider it before deciding. During that period, I skated in shows like Stars on Ice in the US and tours in Japan. Being able to perform in front of audiences again after the COVID-19 situation was energizing and inspiring. It made me realize how much I loved skating. After my last show, I was invited to participate in the Japan Open. They suggested that I skated my 2022 long program. However, it was time to move on and create something new. At the end of Japan Open, I spoke to Tracy and expressed how much I enjoyed it and wasn't ready to give up competitive skating. From there, we discussed how to plan the season, ensuring I could still participate in the scheduled shows while training for US Nationals and Worlds.
You skated at Yuzuru Hanyu's shows before Worlds and stayed in Japan for a few weeks. Could you share your experience with us?
Jason: I traveled to Sendai three weeks before Worlds. Participating in Yuzu's shows was an extraordinary experience. The connection between the audience in Sendai and Yuzu was palpable, and it touched my heart. I was deeply moved when he invited me to participate, and it was an easy yes! I skated versions of my short and long programs, which also served as training. Afterward, I had the fantastic opportunity to train with Rinka Watanabe for a week. The rink had the same dimensions as the one in Saitama for Worlds, whereas we usually have smaller NHL-sized rinks in the US.
This year has been quite busy : competing, shows, working as a media reporter for Team USA, and doing choreography. How did you manage it all?
Jason: It has been a truly enjoyable experience! For 22 years, my focus had solely been on the competitive side of skating. While preparing for the Olympics, the COVID-19 situation meant I had limited interactions and kept my circle small. This year has been the complete opposite. I wanted to explore different aspects of myself and the sport. Each endeavor has contributed to my growth as a skater.
Would you like to continue with all these commitments next year?
Jason: Yes, if I have the opportunity. Working as media at Skate America gave me insight into what you go through, the behind-the-scenes preparations, and how to conduct interviews. The shows I've participated in have been instrumental in honing my performance skills. When you step onto the ice, you must seize the moment, regardless of costume or skate issues, fatigue, or soreness. When the lights come on, it's showtime! It requires adaptability and making the most of every situation. The shows have also introduced me to a new way of training. As I get older, I must be more creative and adjust my training methods. My body can't handle as many jumps as before. These skills have proven beneficial in competitions like Worlds. For instance, during Ice Explosion in Japan, we performed six shows in a single weekend, featuring five different routines, including group and solo numbers. It was a fantastic way to stay in shape.
You choreographed Daniel Grassl's short program. Did you have the chance to watch him skate at Worlds?
Jason: Absolutely! It was incredible to see him skate so brilliantly. He was outstanding, and I adore his program. Witnessing him bring it to life on the world stage was truly special. I couldn't be prouder of him. I'm a huge fan of Daniel and thoroughly enjoy witnessing his growth and development. I've been told that he watched my long program in the mixed zone. We're cheering each other on.
I understand that you may not perceive Daniel as a competitor, but he does compete in the same events. How do you approach that?
Jason: I no longer view it in that way. For a significant part of my career, I was focused on rankings and competitors. However, a new chapter has begun since the Olympic Games, where I can appreciate and enjoy the artistry of other skaters' programs. I want to see them bring out their best and contribute to elevating the sport.
Would you like to continue working as a choreographer?
Jason: Absolutely! I have a deep love for choreography. It allows me to bring out other skaters' personalities and unique styles and help them tell stories on the ice.
Your 2014 Riverdance program still garners attention on social media. How do you perceive it years later?
Jason: Over the years, I have come to appreciate it more and more. It happened early in my career, and there was a constant comparison between that program and everything else I did. It was challenging, as I wanted to show everyone how much I had grown since then. However, looking back now, nine years later, I am learning to embrace it. I have realized the significance of that piece and how unique and rare that moment was. It brings me joy to see the reactions it still generates years later.
The transition into the triple Lutz in this program was quite remarkable. Can we expect to see it again?
Jason: Perhaps! I can still execute it during practice sessions. It would depend on finding the right program to reintroduce it.
Boston will host the 2025 World Championships. Do you consider participating?
Jason: It's still quite far in the future. I have thoroughly enjoyed this year, and if the opportunity arises... Who knows!
Solène MATHIEU - Skate Info Glace