Jason Brown is set to compete in his second Olympic Games in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, eight years after he made his debut in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. We’re so excited to cheer on this Jewish figure skater, so we figured it was well past time we gave you 18 things to know about Brown.
1. Jason Brown was born in 1994 in Los Angeles, California, to Jewish parents Marla and Steven. He grew up in Highland Park, Illinois.
2. He’s a middle sibling — he has an older sister and a younger brother. Here’s the Brown fam:
3. As his mom, Marla, recalls, “Skating was something to do. We certainly were not thinking about the Olympics. [Jason’s] sister was taking lessons and I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and have them go at the same time.” Jason started skating at age 3.
“Jason was a terror when he was little,” his coach Kori Ade told ESPN. “I mean a crazy monster with so much energy that he didn’t know what to do with it and obviously skating gave him a great outlet.” That energy is still palpable in his skates today.
4. Growing up, he attended Jewish sleepaway camp at Camp Olin-Sang-Ruby in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, a camp from the Union for Reform Judaism.
5. He had a bar mitzvah. According to IceNetwork, “at his Bar Mitzvah, instead of having a traditional reception, attendees rehabbed a school as an all-day charity project.” A young mensch!
6. At age 11, Jason Brown won the U.S. national juvenile title and at age 15, he won the U.S. national junior title. At the U.S. Championships in 2014, he came in first in the free skate with his skate to “Riverdance,” which went viral. He would go on to perform it in Sochi, where he competed in the team event. He won bronze with Team USA.
7. In 2015, he won the U.S. national championship, and we are not going to list all his accomplishments because we’d be here forever. He’s medaled six times at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. However, let’s highlight some incredible performances:
8. Notably, he has skated to the theme from “Schindler’s List,” explaining, “My background, obviously, is Jewish, and the story is so touching. I grew up learning about the Holocaust and about Oskar Schindler and the stories. I always wanted to skate to it, but it has to be when I’m at the level, maturity-wise, that I’m really ready to skate to it.”
9. At the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, Brown did not compete, but went as first alternate for the U.S. team. “I lost a lot of my self-worth and my identity on that mission [to make the Olympic team],” Brown said. “And when I didn’t make it, for me, it was almost like I was breaking free from the chain of that and I went back to just the day-to-day grind and enjoying each moment and enjoying each opportunity that I had.” The experience, he said, was like living through his worst nightmare.
10. He was selected to compete at the 2022 Olympics, saying of his selection, “A lot of tears — a lot, lot, lot of tears. But it’s sinking in.”
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) January 10, 2022
11. In 2021, he came out as gay on his Instagram, writing, “I’ve always been shown the beauty in embracing love in every form. I never questioned my own sexuality or even thought much about it because it didn’t matter. I am who I am, and have always been fortunate to be surrounded by people who made me feel like that was enough… I believe that love will always win, and every story will unfold differently for each individual. Mine unfolds a bit now. I’m gay, and that’s a story still being written…”
12. In 2016, he went on Birthright and posted a lot of classic Israel tourism pics on his Instagram:
13. He celebrates Hanukkah, and all the Jewish holidays:
14. Jason speaks Japanese, a language he learned because figure skating is super popular in Japan. He writes his social media posts in both English and Japanese.
Never thought I’d be at it 20 years later, yet here I am…still feeling like that little kid every time I lace up my skates. 20年後も まだこうやってスケートをしているとは、当時思っていませんでした。でも毎回スケート靴をむすぶ時、いつもこの小さかった時の僕と同じ気持ちになります。 pic.twitter.com/67t9PKAIjv
— Jason Brown (@jasonbskates) January 3, 2022
He started learning Japanese in 2010 because he wanted to be able to communicate with fans.
15. “I struggle a lot with self-worth in terms of feeling as though I was good enough. I don’t know if it was because I was sprung into the spotlight so fast when I was younger. It was the most incredible experience [in 2014], but it was something that I hadn’t mentally wrapped my brain around. When I did it at such a young age, it became – for the next four years – all I could think about was the Olympics. It wasn’t about the day-to-day. It was more that anything less than getting back on that [Olympic] team was not good enough. It wore at me and it ate at me,” Brown said.
“The last four years, I think having gone through that, not making the team, coming out the other end, learning so much about myself, continuing to grow and learn and finding my love for the sport again and the love for it, now I’m excited to see how it plays out.”
16. Yet, he still loves the magic of the Olympics: “What’s so special about the Games, is just the fact that you’re surrounded by the best athletes from all over the world. All are doing the sport that you love and that you’re passionate about. There is a really amazing energy in that. You’re in the height of your career. We have the opportunity to do what we love on the biggest stage in the world. That’s what’s magical about the Games. It’s a cool celebration of sorts.”
17. He’s very involved with the Ronald McDonald House charity.
18. “I think as performers a part of our job is to teach and to get people engaged in the story you’re trying to tell on the ice,” Brown said. “The point is to have the passion and intensity with I skate to it and get the story across.”