Jason Brown: “Athletes have the right to be who they want to be and be proud of it.”
Interview with Jason Brown for Russian Media. In an interview Brown spoke about the words of Alexander Zhulin, who called LeDuc a “freak”, responded to criticism due to selection for the Olympics (Ilia Malinin beat him and Vincent Zhou at the US Nationals) and praised the Russian girls who perform in single skating.
source: sport-express.ru dd. 3d February 2022 by Dmitri Kuznetsov
Jason, on Instagram you wrote that for many people this is a trip to Beijing, but for you it’s “a trip back”. Can you explain?
Jason Brown: Yes, the first time I competed at the Olympics in Sochi, when I was 19 years old. And it was my first senior season, so getting to the Olympics was incredible, amazing. I was very happy to be back. Still in Sochi there was a feeling that, here, it happened! I skated, I was in the national team, and it was such an indescribable feeling that from that moment on, returning to the Olympics was my goal. I’m proud of my work, perseverance, every step of the way along the way, the way I trained. So for me it’s more about returning to the Olympics, coming back.
But this Olympics are much stranger than in Sochi.
Jason Brown: Oh yeah. (Laughs.)
How do you feel in the “bubble” and with all these tests?
Jason Brown: We had two years to adapt to the restrictions. Yes, they seemed a little strange before, but now we are used to following all these rules. It seems to me that the Chinese Organizing Committee did everything to make the athletes comfortable.
The team event is about to start, can it be perceived as a confrontation between Russia and the USA?
Jason Brown: Certainly! Two big teams with a long bench. Just being in the Olympics for either of those two teams is a huge achievement in itself. This is a worthwhile goal. It will be a very cool competition, I think. Everyone at home will stock up on popcorn and watch.
Are you participating? Direct question.
Jason Brown: Well, a bit! We’ll find out soon. They will announce it tonight. And soon they will tell all of us.
You are known for your unique skating style. But don’t you think that jumps are more important in figure skating now? Should something be done about this?
Jason Brown: It’s amazing what kind of technical content people are doing now, they are moving the sport forward. There are two sides of our sport – artistic and technical. And just as some people are pushing the boundaries in technique, I want to push the boundaries in artistry. To show what I do every day in training, proving at every competitions how important it is, and expand this aspect. I’m focused on developing this part of our sport. There are many trendsetters in figure skating who are pushing the technical aspect of figure skating forward, forcing the younger generation to work on technique…
Russian girls, for example.
Jason Brown: Exactly. Yes, this is a good example. I just can’t believe what they are doing! Well, I try to convince people that it is necessary to improve the artistry.
But you also have a ceiling. You get a lot of tens, but it doesn’t work.
Jason Brown: Yes, I know it’s 100% true. When it comes to the scoring system and how to maximize results, I take it like this: officials come in, change the rules, and the athletes adjust, trying to get the most out of them. It’s a matter of their skill. And when the people who create the rules see how all this affects the sport, they return to the topic and work on changes.
See how the technical grading scale has changed over the past four years. The difference is huge. They will probably continue to improve it in the coming years, trying to maintain a balance between technique and artistry and continue to encourage both aspects in skaters.
I can’t but ask you about the US Nationals. I heard criticism from Rafael Arutyunyan about the composition of your team – Ilia Malinin took second place and did not go to the Olympics. You were fourth. What do you think about it?
Jason Brown: It’s always like this in sports – we are face to face, and when there are three spots, in this format, talks cannot be avoided. Criteria of getting into the Olympic team, one way or another, reflect the results of the work. And I work hard to continue to represent Team USA in every competitions, World Championships, Grand Prix. I think the selection criterion was my stability and performances throughout this cycle, and this is a very long period.
Another sensitive topic. Timothy LeDuc, a non-binary athlete, will compete at this Olympics for the first time. You have come out. In Russia, in general, there is a different opinion about these stories.
Jason Brown: Oh yes, that’s for sure.
What do you think about it? Alexander Zhulin spoke harshly about LeDuc, saying, how is it he cannot decide who he is.
Jason Brown: It is very important for athletes to stand up for their beliefs. And be whoever he or she wants to be. It’s the most important! So that people feel comfortable and proud of who they are, their condition. I’m very proud of Timothy and completely support. Timothy’s example will have a great impact on everyone. Athletes should believe in themselves, this is a story about the fact that athletes invest all their time and effort for the sake of the Olympics. Identity is just another aspect, you already skate with it. You just have it, you have to be proud of it, and people will support you.
But why don’t some people accept it?
Jason Brown: You’d better ask them. I can’t speak for them. I do not agree with the opinion you voiced. Athletes have the right to be who they want to be and be proud of it.
In the USA, did you encounter problems in this regard?
Jason Brown: Me not. Or if I met, I simply did not pay attention, I just continue to live.