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Highland Park's star figure skater Jason Brown scored a personal best with his short program performance at the 2022 Winter Olympics, carrying him into the men's free skate this week.
Brown capped off a night of record-breaking and shocking performances Monday as the last competitor in a stacked field. And he ended with a routine that was nothing short of "magical," according to announcer Johnny Weir.
Brown earned a score of 97.24, his personal best, and landed in sixth place, advancing him into the final men's free skate program.
"I think for me, it was just kind of keep it together," Brown said after his performance. "It, you know, I was skating last and so it was like the build up to get out there to finally compete, to have that moment. I think just each of the way I was saying one step at a time, one step at a time, and then when I landed that final jumping path I was like 'OK let's sell out, just sell! This will work, give it a go.' So really thrilled and I'm really proud of that performance."
Brown is making his second Olympic appearance after first competing in 2014, when he placed sixth in the short program with a score of 86.00.
He told NBC Chicago before leaving for Beijing about the struggles of missing out in the 2018 Games and what it took for him to get there.
"I think my head got so hyper-focused on that that I felt like for four years I felt like I was in this stage that it was mine to lose," he said. "I cut my hair, I switched coaches, I moved out of the country, now train in Toronto. There were just little steps kind of breaking free and starting new and it allowed me to be a little more fearless."
Brown was noted for his ability to perform during his Beijing short program - and that was what he said he came to do.
"I fell in love with the sport of skating because of the performance aspect," he said. "I love putting on a show for the audience. I love kind of transforming into different characters and kind of embodying whatever attitude that I'm going for on the ice that my, you know, choreographers and I kind of create. So I was just thrilled."
He also gave a shout out to his hometown support.
"I just could not tell everyone thank you enough," he said. "Thank you for your support. Thank you for being there for me every step of the way and cheering me on. I just am so grateful and sending so much love back home."
Brown and fellow Team USA star, Nathan Chen, a favorite for the gold medal who broke a record with his short program performance, will compete once again Wednesday as they each hope to medal.