Ice Network

Joyous Brown becomes overnight Paris sensation

American delights fans with pure line edges, audience appeal
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According to coach Kori Ade, Jason Brown skates with the genuineness and purity he embodies in real life. -Getty Images

Jason Brown has become among the Paris ice scene stars overnight after his masterful short program Friday night at the 2013 Trophée Eric Bompard, which put him in third place before the free skate Saturday night.

He and his coach, Kori Ade, were happy to find lunch at the end of Brown's practice session. The quality of Brown's skating and the harmony he displays when he skates should again make him one of the audience's favorites here during his free skate, set to "Riverdance."

Both he and Ade took the time to share their views on skating with icenetwork.

Icenetwork: Is it your first time in Paris?

Brown: Oh yes! I went twice to Courchevel, but of course this is very different.(Courchevel is a renowned ski resort higher in the French Alps. Once every two years, it gathers the world junior elite in one of the first Junior Grand Prix events of the season.) It is incredible here, the architecture, the streets. … We went to the Eiffel Tower and we were blown by how commanding and powerful it is. It's huge! I will be staying an extra day for museums.

Paris has the reputation of being such a passionate and special city, and I feel blessed to have been chosen to come here.

Icenetwork: Your two programs look quite different. How did you work on them?

Brown: I loved taking two completely different programs this year. I like diversity. And yet, I hope that every program I do will take my feel equally. I love to act. It is quite fun for me to get into Prince's style (for the short program). Even though I do not feel like him at all, I love taking his character.

As for my long program, Rohene [Ward] (Brown's choreographer), was really excited about "Riverdance." We started working and we both fell in love with it. It is so much fun, and the audience quickly gets into it. It is upbeat and so different. It starts rather slowly, and then it builds up and it never stops. It is one my most challenging programs ever, but we worked so hard, and it is really exciting when it comes together.

Icenetwork: 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. First about pureness: How do you do it?

Brown (with a broad smile): I work really hard, especially on the component aspect of my skating. I love pure lines. I take some dance lessons for that. Also, I am very hard on myself, pushing myself to be better and better. As a skater, you always see the flaws that make you not as good as you would like to be.

Ade: Pureness of what you do is true to what you are. Jason's pureness of skating edges is just the expression on the ice of the pureness of his soul. That's what he is genuinely made of.

Brown: My parents put me on the ice when I was a child, and I loved going fast and I loved skating all at once. Then I met Kori, and I loved the life lessons she has taught me. Skating is taking me all around the world, and it brings me joy.

Ade: In fact, I was aiming at studying in medical school, never at coaching. I used to coach skating to pay for my studies. And then I had students who wanted me to keep coaching, so here I am. In fact, let me tell you: Jason is a pleasure.

Icenetwork: Do you like shows?

Brown (with a huge ear-to-ear smile): I love shows.

Ade: Jason likes not to leave anybody down. Every student works for his coach or teacher at the beginning. Our job, as coaches, is to make sure that the skater builds some distance with his coach. Jason was not this way. He has always had the desire to please everyone with his gift. Anyone in attendance is the icing on the cake.

Let me tell you one story about Jason (Brown is grasping some food, finally). When he was 9 or 10, there was a boy with special needs named Bratt. They kept on putting him in the same class as Jason's because they knew Jason would be good to him. One day, we took Bratt to the rink and he was so excited to see his friend perform. He was even more excited when Jason did a split jump. So I asked Jason to do another one for Bratt. Jason told me, "But I can't do it again! It makes me sad to think that Bratt won't be able to skate." We explained to him that he should never forget his own gift, as it would be something he would keep to bring people some joy.

Brown: It is such an honor for me when some people come to see me and want to communicate about my skating. They may come from any country and not be able to speak the same language as I do, it does not matter: We can communicate with our hands as well!

Icenetwork: You have to speak different languages then!

Brown: Oh yes! In high school, I learned Spanish, and for my first year at university I am taking just two classes: English and Japanese. I like to meet with people and be able to hear their stories and communicate.

Icenetwork: This is our second point: audience appeal. Does it come naturally to you?

Brown: I have always loved to connect with an audience. There are moments in my programs when I feel that their eyes are focused on me, that they are staring at me. It's really cool to have such feeling.

Icenetwork: Do you prepare special moments in your programs for connecting with the audience?

Brown: No, I just find these moments. It's not that you think it's going to happen and then you connect.

Ade: Jason has just developed a sense for when this is going to happen. Plus, he does not skate with his glasses!

Brown (both Ade and he laughing): Yeah, I can't see them with my eyes! But I can feel the energy and the excitement! And it brings a lot to the program.

Icenetwork: What about your connection to music? What kind of tastes do you have musically?

Brown: My musical tastes go anywhere from slow music, country, pop, classical. Anything I can connect to and feel, really. It is really neat for me to skate and make up fun choreographies on the spot. You hear a piece of music and you start to choreograph something just for fun. This is a gift for me!

Icenetwork: Rohene Ward, your choreographer, is becoming a true sensation with Holiday on Ice here in Europe. Do you like choreography?

Brown: Yes. I have been working with Rohene for the last five years, and we have a cool relationship. We can work one full hour for just five seconds of the program, trying to fine-tune it.

Ade: Rohene is not so well known today because some people tend to remember him as a skater who did not succeed as a competitor. "He is so gifted," someone said, "that it was also his curse." He never developed a spirit for competition, but one day he will be an iconic choreographer.

Icenetwork: Take a former doctor-to-be as a coach when you are 5 years old and never leave her, choose a misunderstood (so far) genius who tours with the biggest ice show in Europe as a choreographer, and keep going. Brown and his team might be showing that this is the best route to becoming a champion.