Local Skaters Punch Their Tickets to Sochi

Nobody was really talking about Highland Park's Jason Brown leading up to this weekend's U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston.

But the 19-year-old skater from outside Chicago put in the performance of his life in the singles competition, earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi next month.

Brown received the rock star treatment from fans, and he certainly looks the part with his long ponytail and sequined costumes. He turned 19 less than a month ago, but he's a natural showman.

Every step was perfectly in time to his Irish stepdance music, as Brown played to the crowd the whole way. People were on their feet to give him a standing ovation before he had even completed his final spin.

He didn't try any quads. But other than under-rotating one triple axel, Brown landed all his jumps with ease.

As he waited for his marks, Brown rested his head on his coach's shoulder, overwhelmed by his performance. He squinted at his score in feigned disbelief when the number was posted, putting him temporarily in first place.

And when Richard Dornbush, second after the short program, pulled up short on several jumps, Brown was guaranteed to finish no worse than second.

Olympic veteran Jeremy Abbott placed first.

It was a good day overall for Chicago-area figure skaters, with singles skater Gracie Gold named to the women's team, and ice dancing teams Meryl Davis and Charlie White plus Maia and Alex Shibutani all headed to to Sochi.

Gold grew up in Springfield, Ill., but has done much of her training at rinks in suburban Glen Ellyn and Vernon Hills.

Two-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner also made the Olympic team despite finishing a distant fourth at the national championships.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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