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Abbott, with coaches Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen, acknowledges the crowd following his free skate.

and I’m proud of my eff ort and what I did under the circumstance.” After skating through the numerous challeng- es of a 20-plus-year competitive career, Abbott is looking forward to his future. First it will be skat- ing in shows, then perhaps choreographing pro- grams for the next generation of skaters. But it’s this part of the journey that he will take with him. “I’ve been around for such a long time in this

sport,” said Sato, a two-time Olympian and 1994 World champion. “Everyone’s dream is to skate outstanding at the Olympics. Not always it hap- pens. What I’ve been stressing with Jeremy is it’s important to have your goal and the dream, but most importantly your work ethic and the journey that takes you through, that will always stay with you. What we learn throughout the daily training isn’t just about quad toes; it’s about life, and no one takes away from that.”

Olympic experience makes Brown hungry for future

With a series of infectious quick steps accent-

ed by a bobbing ponytail, Jason Brown is keenly aware that he is seen as the future of the men’s sport in America.

After a breakout performance at the 2014 U.S. Championships, Brown’s relative ease during a complicated program helped bring in fans and a nonskating public who fl ocked to view his River- dance free skate on YouTube. Taking more than 4.3 million views into his fi rst Olympic Games cast an unprecedented light on an American male skater. But you’d never know it. Skating on the practice ice with Plushenko

unpredictably helped calm any nerves of the fi rst- time Olympian. T e Russian superstar approached the young American and shared a compliment. “Evgeni Plushenko! Never in a million years did I think I would get to skate against him,” Brown said. “I really look up to him. T en, in my fi rst practice, he came up to me and said he was a fan of my skating. I said, ‘No, no, no! I’m such a fan of yours!’ He was so nice. After that, I felt so pumped and so relaxed on the ice. It felt normal.” Chosen to skate the men’s free skate portion

of the Team Event, Brown laid down a solid pro- gram that had Team USA on its feet.

“I just wanted to contribute to the team, to

do the best I could,” he said. “I wanted to put out a skate that my teammates could be proud of. I thought I’d be more nervous, but having their sup- port was amazing. I’d skate past them and they’d be

Jeremy Abbott rallies from a hard spill in his short program to fi nish strong.

screaming. It was the best feeling.” His performance helped secure a bronze med- al, which he hands out freely to anyone asking to pose with it.

“I make sure to keep my hand on the ribbon,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t want it to fall.” Brown’s goal coming into the Sochi Games

was to place in the top 10. After fi nishing sixth in the short program, he drew the pressure-packed fi nal spot in the free skate. As medal contenders fell one by one, Brown took the ice in a position to earn the bronze medal. T e mere thought of a fi rst-year senior com- petitor being a medal contender is mind-boggling, but in the magical world of Jason Brown, hope becomes possibility. But on this night, it wasn’t meant to be. Brown fi nished ninth. And he was just fi ne with it. “It’s so hard to believe in my fi rst senior in- ternational season I got to really compete against all the guys I’ve looked up to all over the world,” Brown said. “Imagine what that’s like to be on the practice ice with them. It wasn’t like I was scared to compete against them, it was more that I was excited to compete with them. With some of them like Brian Joubert and Evgeni Plushenko getting ready to retire, it was really an honor for me.” Now skating’s new male face is looking to

help grow the sport’s popularity. “What I want to accomplish in my career is to

extend the sport, to bring it back and to get more people involved,” he said. “I really feel we have a

very strong group of young skaters with me, Gracie [Gold, 19], Polina [Edmunds, 15] and others to push it back up. Will it ever be back up like the Michelle Kwan days? I don’t know, but I want to try. T at’s my main goal. “It means the world to me that people are in-

vested, involved and want to follow skating again. I think we all feel the same way. Gracie has the name, the look, everything going for her. We were in Sochi talking about eight or nine more years of skating together. We’ve not even reached our peak! And Polina’s so young and talented. “I really couldn’t be more excited to be a part

of that with Polina and Gracie. It’s so exciting that we’ve gotten the [Olympic] experience at this age so that when, hopefully, four more years come around, we are ready to kill it!”

Japan’s Hanyu wins gold After a world-record short program, Yuzu-

ru Hanyu prevailed to become Japan’s fi rst men’s fi gure skating champion, despite two falls in his free skate. T e 19-year-old won Olympic gold with 280.09 total points, becoming the youngest men’s Olympic champion since Dick Button, who was 18 in 1948. Canada’s Patrick Chan earned the silver medal with 275.62 points, followed by Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten, who rebounded from a ninth-place fi nish in the short program to earn his country’s fi rst Olympic fi gure skating medal, the bronze, with a total score of 255.10.




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