For all those that couldn’t watch it or like a great read, here is a transcription of Kaetlyn Osmond’s interview with Jason Brown ahead of Worlds 2021.
Kaetlyn: Welcome back to Kicking It with KO in partnership with Jackson Ultima! I am so excited to be joined by the ever-optimistic Jason Brown. Let’s just start from the very beginning, how did you start skating?
Jason: I began skating when I was about 5 years old. My sister got invited to a skating birthday party, so my parents put her in lessons just so that she would know how to skate for this party (laughs). It had nothing to do with anything, it wasn’t like there was this love for the sport, or anything like that. It was just my parents didn’t want to drop their kid off at this party without knowing how to skate. They felt like bad parents (laughs). So they put her in lessons, and those lessons led to an ice show, you know, the end of the year ice show. I went to the ice show to cheer on my sister, and I just fell in love. It was like “oh my gosh, mom and dad, that’s what I want to do! I want to be in the ice show! I want to do that!” Just seeing people perform, and the lights, and the costumes — drew me right in. That pure love of performance has not stopped to this day.
Kaetlyn: I am currently looking at your Instagram and in every single picture, you’re smiling. There’s a few pictures, actually, in my neighbourhood. I’m like “hey! I’m right here!” (laughs). And every time I’ve ever talked to you, you’re laughing or smiling or being completely positive. So does that come naturally? Are you just a naturally positive human?
Jason: You know, I definitely think I am a positive person. I mean I think it comes from my parents. I always laugh when people meet my mom and they’re like “oh my god I see where you get your positivity from”. Then they meet my dad and they’re like, “Oh… we thought your mom was positive!” Like my dad is on a whole other level! I’m really really fortunate in that sense.
My parents put so much into perspective and always see the glass as half full. They’re just very positive and optimistic people. I definitely think that’s part of it. I think also, on a personal note: because of the sport, I’ve seen a sports psychologist and I’ve kind of just gotten into therapy since I was 10 years old. I do think that having that open communication where you can talk about your feelings has also helped me gain a lot of perspective. It just helped me open up and feel good about all those imperfections, and those flaws; and not internalize them. I think that’s helped a lot as far as seeing things on a more optimistic side.
Kaetlyn: Also going through your Instagram, your Instagram is beautiful! I see you do so much volunteer work. You’ve done stuff with the Ronald McDonald House. How did that begin?
Jason: I’ve always loved giving back, and giving back to the community that I’m involved in. I think there’s so many outreach opportunities that we can all take part in. I think that’s so important. That’s another huge thing I was brought up learning. That whole idea of giving back, and paying it forward. And I think that one of the awesome parts about our sport, is that when
we’re done competing people throw stuffed animals, and flowers, and whatever onto the ice — as you’re well aware. I really wanted to do something that I could then get fans involved and then give back specifically to the community that I was skating in, and make it a bit more personal for the fans as well. I was looking at different organizations, and the Ronald McDonald House is one of those organizations that is global. It’s everywhere around the world, and a big part of the sport is throwing stuffed animals on the ice. Whenever we travel, sometimes the toughest part is that you can’t bring them all back home! You wish you had the space, but you don’t. I wanted to get them involved in a personal way so we paired up with the Ronald McDonald House. Each city that I compete in, internationally, we donate those stuffed animals to. It’s been really amazing, and the fans have been really receptive. I kind of document those experiences to bring them along with it so they see where their contribution is going. And it’s been amazing to meet the
families at the Ronald McDonald Houses and hear their stories. It’s just another kind of incredible way to gain perspective, to see the world, and meet different people from around the world. It definitely puts a bad skate into perspective. It really has put a smile on my face. Their stories of perseverance, and courage, and hope are so inspiring. It motivates me to just keep
Kaetlyn: What is something that is your highlight of your skating career?
Jason: When I look back, one of my biggest and most favourite moments was actually a world team trophy. When I finished skating and everyone from all the different countries came into the ‘kiss and cry’ and cheered me on as I got my scores. I think that for me was such a moment because I was surrounded by all these people that I looked up to, and that I aspired to be like, that I had watched on TV for years prior. I was just so grateful to be in the competition with them, and then the fact that they were in the ‘kiss and cry’ with me? It was very emotional; it was very exciting. I think that just shows how incredible the skating community is, and supportive of each other.
Kaetlyn: That’s incredible. I think from an individual athlete’s perspective — those team events mean so much more to us! So that was a highlight, what other goals do you have? You’ve already accomplished so much.
Jason: One, I want to land a quad in a competition. I want it on my protocol sheet, I want to have my pluses. I know I can do it and I think that’s a huge goal. I really really think… I don’t think, I know, I’m capable of it. I do it every day, it’s just getting it that one time when you perform it, when it counts. I think that’s a huge goal. I do not want to walk away or retire from the sport until I have a quad landed on that protocol sheet — having it there because I’m capable! Then I want to get back on the Olympic team. I was so fortunate to be on the U.S. team in 2014. And be there with you [Kaetlyn], which was incredible! 2018 was a bit of a rock year for me, but I’m really determined to get back on that team next year, I want to be in Beijing.
Kaetlyn: I remember 2014, I was so new to everything. I was like, I don’t know anyone! Then you came across and I was like (gasp) I know him! We went to junior worlds together! This year has been… a year (laughs), to say the least. You’ve had the opportunity to compete, which is incredible. You’re training here in Toronto. What’s it been like? How’s your year been?
Jason: It’s been bizarre. I think, like anyone, there have been ups and downs. This year has not been easy, it’s not been simple, it’s definitely thrown everyone for a bit of a loop. I think that one of the biggest things that I’ve learned is just to take each day as it comes. I think at the beginning of the pandemic you kept feeling like things were getting taken away, or things were going to be normal — and then they weren’t. You’re like “oh the rinks are open!”, and then they’re closed. You keep getting in these rhythms, and as athletes, we’re so used to getting into our rhythm. We know the rhythm of our season, we know the rhythm of our training, and the rhythm of the gym.
Suddenly that’s all stripped away and you’re like “woah, I’ve been doing this for 20+ years, and suddenly I have no access to a gym?” I know it’s such a minor thing in the scheme of things, but as athletes we’re just so accustom to that consistency. For me it was really just finding that new normal. At the beginning I think I tried to find it in ways that were available, but then there were still these ups and downs of things like Skate Canada happening and then it was cancelled. We even went through a period in the winter where the gyms were starting to open, and restrictions were easing up, and then we back peddled. I think for me it was just trying to figure out how to work with what I got, keep it consistent, and get a pattern. We’ve done a pretty good job with
that and trying to find that balance. I feel very fortunate that the rinks have been able to stay open for the elite athletes. It’s so sad that we don’t get to see all the younger skaters right now because I know how difficult that is. I do feel very fortunate that we’ve been able to skate and train.
Then to have that opportunity at the US Championships to compete, it definitely gave that feeling of a little beacon of hope, like this is possible! It was a little strange since there’s no audience, but I was still able to be there and compete. You were able to see how they did it with all the COVID protocols. We felt really safe in the bubble. After that experience it made it feel like Worlds is possible.
Kaetlyn: With the continuous closures and unknowns, did you go back to the States? Or did you want to go home? What kept you here to train?
Jason: In all honesty it was because of all the unknowns in getting back to Canada that I didn’t go home. I went home at the beginning of COVID, when Worlds was cancelled, and I came back to Canada at the end of June. I was in Canada from the end of June until the US championships. Yes, I would have loved to go home, even if it was just for a weekend! But right now, with the
restrictions, you’d have to quarantine for 2 weeks upon return. It’s difficult to find that right time to take that break, and to risk not being able to re-enter Canada.
Kaetlyn: Will you be going home after the world championships?
Jason: I will be going home! I have a flight from Sweden to Chicago booked so I’m very excited about that. I’m missing my family.
Kaetlyn: Lastly, what is your advice for young skaters?
Jason: I would have to say: “the love for the sport has to drive you.” Being around so many athletes, not even in skating but in all sports, you see this common denominator of the passion and the love for the sport that you’re in. It drives you and it’s the motivating factor. I think that if you love the sport — no matter if you’re from a small town, or big city — you can make it work, and you can find your own path. The next piece of that is that there’s no one path to success.
Success looks different to everyone. I would tell younger skaters to take that love and know that you don’t have to do ABCD to get to Z. Know that every path to wherever you want to go is different, and you can create it in your own way. It’s not going to be linear. You’re going to have a lot of ups and downs. You’re going to have a lot of great moments, and moments you wish you don’t ever have to relive. It’s all part of the process, you’re going to learn from each setback and each success. Just be open to wherever the sport takes you.
Kaetlyn: That’s amazing. Thank you so much!
Jason: Oh my god no, thank you so much for having me!
Kaetlyn: You’re always a nice, bright, shining light. I wish you the best of luck with your second competition of the season!
After this interview, Jason did go on to finish 7th at Worlds!