Jason Brown has had a pretty memorable past year. At this time last year, he was just an 18-year-old figure skater on the junior circuit. In the year since, he made the Olympic team, won a medal and even met Russian president Vladimir Putin.
That meeting was after the team figure skating competition. Putin attended Sunday’s finals, then congratulated the skaters.
“It’s something that happened so fast, you almost didn’t think it was real," Brown said. “Our team was standing around, and he literally put his hand out for each of us. We all shook his hand.
“It was kind of like one of those moments where you stand there with your eyes open -- and then he moved on to the next person. It happened so fast, I was totally star-struck and having a hard time trying to grasp it all. It was so incredible. ..."
“He’s so supportive of the Russians and their skating, and that’s another incredible aspect, that Putin is behind all the skaters. He’s behind the Russian federation and he’s here to support them, and I think that’s awesome. That’s huge. And the fact that he came up to us is such a memorable moment. It’s incredible that I can say I shook Putin’s hand."
Brown helped the U.S. to a bronze medal in the team competition by skating the men’s free program. Although he fell once, he skated much better than U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, who fell twice in the short program and dug his teammates into an early hole. Still, Abbott said that made for good preparation for this week’s men’s competition that starts Thursday.
“I had some big demons post-U.S. nationals, and I got to meet them up close and shake their hands and make peace with them and send them on their way," Abbott said. “It was good for me mentally because it made me really look at my preparation, and I really wasn’t in my structure. When I was at the rink I was, but when I was in the athletes village I wasn’t. So it made for a very unsteady situation, and when I got in that pressure situation, it kind of all collapsed."
Abbott says he's altered his schedule to compensate thanks to the lesson he learned in the team competition, Plus, both he and Brown have medals they have only a slim chance of winning as individuals.
“To be on the medal stand with my teammates yesterday and to think a year ago I didn’t even think I was going to be skating in seniors competition?" Brown said. “I didn’t think I was going to make the Olympic team. And now to have a medal?"