Jason Brown: "I believe that love will always win, and every story will unfold differently for each individual..."

Sylvia

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Re-posting here from the U.S. Men's thread:
Great interview with Jason Brown for Russian press (Gazeta magazine)
...
Will try to translate later
Google translated headline:
"I grew up knowing about the Holocaust": American figure skater - about Medvedeva, BLM and WWII
Skater Brown accused Yagudin of "limited thinking" because of criticism against him

By Elvira Ondar
If you have time to translate any highlights, @Ka3sha, could you post in this thread please? :)
 
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Ka3sha

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If you have time to translate any highlights, @Ka3sha, could you post in this thread please? :)
Found this translation by fs-gossips

On Brian and Tracy
And now you work in Toronto with three coaches – Brian Orser, Tracy Wilson and Karen Preston.

Jason Brown:
Yes! This is a great trio. Tracy is my head coach, she appreciates my artistry and tries to bring my skating to the next level. Karen has a brilliant mind in terms of technical elements – she helps me to understand all the nuances of technique that this trio wants to implement in my jumps.
Brian is great at everything. In my career, he is like a general manager. He has experienced everything in sports at the highest level – as an athlete and as a coach – and broadcasts his vision to me and shares subtle moments … And he is also good in times of crisis.
You said that Tracy Wilson and Brian Orser changed your technique on every triple jump. Why were so many fixes needed?
Jason Brown:
Figure skating has changed dramatically in recent Olympic cycles. Now skaters need to perform their jumps efficiently rather than spectacularly. A giant height and long traveling are no longer needed so much.
You have to enter the jump faster, start spinning immediately, do it at a higher pace – this is what we are working on. I really like the way I perform rotations now. I rely on the strength that I create when I gradually prepare to a jump, and then I kinda explode and start to rotate. We were working on this “explosion” moment, where I have to take off the ice and enter the rotation as fast as I can. Everything should be fast, clean, efficient.
Are you spending less energy performing jumps now?
Jason Brown:
That’s it!
And does it help you to perform quads?
Jason Brown:
Yes, it helps a lot. These are positive changes in technique that greatly influence my performances.
On Alexei Yagudin and his critique
Some coaches criticize you for beating their athletes without clean quadruple jumps. Olympic champion Alexei Yagudin, commenting on your performances on Russian television, also often condemned the absence of quads in your programs. How do you feel about such criticism?

Jason Brown:
Yes, I’ve heard about it. It’s a pity about Yagudin’s statements. Many skaters from my circle considered Alexei to be an example from childhood. We grew up during the years he competed and were big fans of him.
It’s hard to read how Yagudin assess you, says whether you are good enough to be in this sport, discusses whether you have worked hard enough to progress. Yes, it’s frustrating. A little.
But to be honest, I don’t focus on that. I am totally focused on becoming a better athlete. And I’m working hard on it. And not only on the artistic part.
I really work to the limit of my abilities and give all my strength to stabilize quadruple jumps and become a technically perfect skater.
So yes, I admit that Yagudin’s statements made me upset. I don’t know if he understands how much energy it takes me to work on quads. And these are not just some attempts – I really work hard to get stronger and better.
In my opinion, it is a bit limited thinking to think that men’s single skating is determined only by the presence of quadruple jumps. Because figure skating is a sport where you need to show a memorable performance and try to become a versatile athlete.
In my opinion, it makes no sense to assess a skater by only one aspect of this sport and to look at him only through the prism of quadruple jumps.
Figure skating is rich in a huge number of elements. Most of them are jumps, but we have so many other opportunities to earn points so to downgrade all other elements, as Alexei does …
Of course, I cannot speak for him, and I think that he has the right to speak out as he wants. But I still think that figure skating is much more than just jumping.
And I want no young skater to grow up with the fear that if he does not learn a certain jump, he will not be worthy of success in figure skating, that there will be no place for him in this sport. Such thoughts are lies.
All children who work incredibly hard deserve a chance to succeed. And they should develop in all aspects, even if they fail with some kind of jump.
There are kids who love to glide, they love to interpret music and show an artistic image like me. And I want to prove by my example that if you work hard and improve your strengths, you can achieve success in figure skating.
And you are already such an example, Jason.
Jason Brown:
Oh-oh-oh, thanks!
You know, at some point of my career I had to deal with psychological problems. I tried to regain my confidence and make sure there was a place for me in figure skating. At such moments, I had thoughts that if I cannot perform some elements, then I have no chance of success or that I am not good enough for this sport.
But it was important for me to keep working every day to find my place in figure skating. And now I want to become a voice for people who are trying to do the same.
on Evgenia Medvedeva
You were close friends with Evgenia Medvedeva when she trained at the Cricket Club. You both joined Brian Orser in the summer of 2018 after working with other coaches for years, which is psychologically challenging. Did you support each other in this situation?
Jason Brown:
Yes, it was so.
Our friendship with Evgenia helped me a lot. We both experienced the same situation: we were with the same coach for a long time, suddenly decided to completely change our lives, moved to a completely new place for ourselves … And we helped each other go through all this – it was easier together. We learned a lot from each other, and this brought us very close.
It was you who met Evgenia at the airport when she first come to Toronto.

Jason Brown:
I knew that Evgenia was going to come – I saw an article that soon she would be in Toronto, and I thought: “Oh my God! She will be here soon, just like me!” Thought she might need help. I asked Evgenia when she arrives, we talked, and I said: “I want to meet you!”.

She replied: “No, don’t.” Apparently she wanted to call a taxi. But I didn’t give up: “Let me meet you! You are moving with a bunch of things from Russia! Just let me give you a ride. I want to see a familiar face and can help to settle down.”

I was very excited when I first met Evgenia in Toronto and saw her mother. We were starting a new chapter in our life, and it was very emotional. I was absolutely happy that I was able to share this experience with her.

Evgenia said that you helped her in many ways and even taught her to pronounce some words in English.

Jason Brown:
Yes (laughs)! Her English is great, but she is always eager to learn something new. And I tried to help her – for example, in the pronunciation of some words. I said: “I understand everything you say perfectly. But if you want to pronounce it perfectly, then we say it like this. However, you can pronounce it as before: I perfectly understand the meaning.” If I allowed myself any comments, it was constructive criticism and only with good intentions.
And we both enjoyed it because Evgenia was really determined to improve her English, and I have always sincerely tried to help her work on her pronunciation and increase her active vocabulary.
You also know Japanese, and Evgenia also studied this language. Did you practice it too?
Jason Brown:
Sometimes it happened! Evgenia is great at learning languages. This is more her sphere than mine – it seemed to me that she was teaching me (laughs). Her English is much better than my Russian could ever be. Evgenia is beautiful. And she is talented in a huge variety of different fields.
For a while, you also studied the same quadruple – salchow. And in your interview in 2019, you said that you and Evgenia are even racing about this.
Jason Brown
: Yes, you know, it was such a friendly competition (laughs). We had the same goal. First, we competed who would land the clean quadruple salchow faster in training. Then we could have competed in who will do it in the competitions. We could always change the conditions of the race a little – so we motivated each other to develop.
Evgenia put a sticker with the words “Beijing-2022” on the glass of your car. A reminder of another common goal?
Jason Brown:
Yes! And I still keep it.
On BLM
In recent years, the problem of racism has been actively raised in the United States. Do you study these kinds of questions in college?
Jason Brown:
Yes, that’s right. This problem is what pushes me to put even more efforts in education and especially in the study of criminal law, to learn more about what is happening and why, and how we generally ended up in such a situation.
You supported the Black Lives Matter movement on social media. Have you participated in any protests or demonstrations?
Jason Brown:
Unfortunately, no, I did not participate in the marches. This should not be an excuse, but I regularly see my grandparents in the US and would not want to increase their risk of contracting the ********. So I try to speak out in other ways. However, I support people demonstrating against racism and in support of Black Lives Matter – I am completely on their side.
People were killed during the wave of protests that took place in the United States. For example, there was information that in Chicago, where you lived for a long time, there were people killed. Was the situation really that dire?
Jason Brown:
This is a difficult question. What was happening was terrible and chaotic. We watched the news every night.
I think there are a lot of things that we really paid attention to at that moment. We were literally forced to open our eyes and see what problems exist and what is happening. Forced to face injustice and inequality. Look closely at each other and ask: “What did we do to prevent this? How have we helped?”
We must try to become better as people. Yes, it is a pity that terrible things sometimes happened during the riots. It was scary. Although I personally live outside the city and did not feel a threat to myself. I was not attacked.
And I hope that we can stand together to face of this problem and help the humanity – help to achieve equality in the world. For me this is the most important thing in my life. Everyone deserves equal treatment.
On Jewish heritage, Shindler's List program and WWII
You are from a Jewish family. Your people have also experienced severe discrimination, and your free program to the music from Schindler’s List is dedicated to this topic. Is that also one of the reasons why racist issues are of particular concern to you?
Jason Brown:
Quite right. I grew up knowing about the Holocaust. This is a huge part of my history, the history of my ancestors. Then there was discrimination and ethnic killings. After such events, it seems to me that in the 21st century we should be at a higher stage of development as a society than we are now.
I am very lucky: I feel that I can be free, I can achieve success in sports openly – as a Jewish guy – and this has not always been possible in history, as you know. And we must continue to fight for individual rights and freedoms and to achieve equality for all people.
Your program to the Schindler’s List is closely related to the events of World War II. You must have plunged very deeply into this topic?
Jason Brown:
Yes, I read a lot about those events – I grew up reading books and learning more and more about the Second World War. We also covered this topic in school, but I think there is a lot more information to learn. This can be studied for years!
There are so many human stories and so many points of view on what happened … I always try to understand this better and better understand the events of those years.
I heard that in the USA they teach that it was America who defeated Germany in World War II. Having studied the history of those events, do you completely agree with this?
Jason Brown:
I think we can assume that this is true. Although this is a certain perception – from its own angle. At school, you look at all the events and study them from the point of view of the United States. It’s like looking at a darkened mirror in which you see some particular things brighter.
Love
You said that the program to the song “Love is a Bitch” is a reminder for you that love is sometimes “an annoying, painful thing.”
Jason Brown:
Yes! This program seemed to reveal the other side in me – the passive-aggressive one. There was a dangerous fire in it that reminded me that sometimes love really hurts and even annoys. It was such view into the depths of this feeling, which revealed a little its negative, angry side.
You talk a lot about your family, friends, but nothing about your personal life. did you decide to carefully defend this part of your story?
Jason Brown:
Yes, you know, there is a mix of reasons for this. I myself need to understand who I am before letting people into this part of my life.
It’s like opening an onion. The older I get, the more I learn about myself and the more I open to people who I really am. I let more people into my story, into my path – both as an athlete and a as person. I still continue to learn myself, develop, read, understand, learn and each layer of my life is gradually revealed.

Ended up copying almost entire interview as I really enjoyed it. It somehow combines the bluntness of Russian interviewers and Jason's natural sweetness and thoughtfulness :)
 
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kwanfan1818

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I know that interviews are edited, but he didn't understand the import of the question about WWII and I'm sure reinforced in their readership how myopic and jingoistic most Americans' education about history is and how the role of the Soviet Union and the people's fortitude, suffering, and sacrifice in defeating the Axis is generally obliterated in our learning.
 
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feraina

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Jason is amazing. He’s much younger than me, but every time he speaks, I feel like there are life lessons I can learn from him - how to live a kinder, happier, more fulfilling life. I’d be absolutely thrilled if my kids could grow up to be like him - I don’t mean as a skater but as a person. He has the most positive attitude, while still being incredibly grounded and genuine. Somehow he’s very competitive and yet treats his competitors with great respect, humanity, and friendliness; he pushes himself very hard but he also treats himself gently; he is extremely devoted to the sport of figure skating but he’s also very balanced and knows and cares about a huge variety of things in the world; he has passion and intensity and yet you can feel the zen-ness oozing out of him. I don’t understand how someone like Jason is even possible. He’s full of (the best kind of) contradictions.
 

feraina

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I know that interviews are edited, but he didn't understand the import of the question about WWII and I'm sure reinforced in their readership how myopic and jingoistic most American's education about history is and how the role of the Soviet Union and the people's fortitude, suffering, and sacrifice in defeating the Axis is generally obliterated in our learning.
I think his answer was fine. I went to public American schools and learned about the great battles and suffering the Russian/soviet experienced during WWII. I don’t remember ever being taught that it was only Americans who beat the Germans and their allies. We were always taught it was a team effort. Of course we learned more about what the American armies and their close allies did than other countries - the landing of Normandy and the bombardment of London. I’m sure Russian kids learn more about Russian armies than any other country too. What is much less taught or generally acknowledged is how much the Chinese contributed to beating back the Japanese - one only hears about Hiroshima. Of course in China it’s taught that only the Chinese mattered and there’s no mention of the US. what do the Russian schools teach about china?

Anyway, I think Jason’s answer is spot on: there are all these different perspectives and depending on whose perspective it is, light is being shown on a different part of this darkened room. He even said he likes reading about all the different perspectives and one needs many years of active studying to really understand WWII.
 

kwanfan1818

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The interviewer asked, "I heard that in the USA they teach that it was America who defeated Germany in World War II. Having studied the history of those events, do you completely agree with this?" It was the first sentence of his reply that is problematic: "I think we can assume that this is true."

What follows is a more thoughtful explanation.
 

MacMadame

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The interviewer asked, "I heard that in the USA they teach that it was America who defeated Germany in World War II. Having studied the history of those events, do you completely agree with this?" It was the first sentence of his reply that is problematic: "I think we can assume that this is true."

What follows is a more thoughtful explanation.
So he agreed that in the USA we teach that it was America who defeated Germany. This is kind of what I was taught so I don't see this as problematic but an acknowledgment of reality in the US that our understanding of WWII needs improvement.
 

dinakt

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That wasn't how I read it: I thought he started by saying that he thought it was true "that it was America who defeated Germany in WW II."
@Ka3sha's translation is excellent, but it sounds a little more definitive in English than how it sounded in Russian. It is closer to: I think it could be considered true..." or smth like that, and then he immediately goes into caveats about every country teaching through its own prism ( "darkened mirror")
I am very sensitive to the topic, but I think Jason replied the best he could. What could he say? He acknowledged the complexity of the topic.

I always found the way Russia's contribution to victory over fascism is taught in the US deeply lacking... but would not expect Jason to know all the complexities and to be able to come up with an answer on the spot that makes everybody happy. He knows World War II history as a Jewish man and an American.
 

kwanfan1818

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I loved the rest of his answer: that, essentially, history is taught through a local lens, with dark spots being the points of view of other countries. If MacMadame is right that he was agreeing about the way history was taught in the US, not with the conclusion, then it would make sense as a whole, but it sounded to me like he agreed with the conclusion (prematurely) and then clarified, and that caught me by the throat.
 

dinakt

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I loved the rest of his answer: that, essentially, history is taught through a local lens, with dark spots being the points of view of other countries. If MacMadame is right that he was agreeing about the way history was taught in the US, not with the conclusion, then it would make sense as a whole, but it sounded to me like he agreed with the conclusion (prematurely) and then clarified, and that caught me by the throat.
I think the first sentence is vague enough that it could be interpreted in many ways. Besides, the interview was (had to be) in English, translated into Russian for publication, translated back into English...

But- selfishly- @MacMadame 's mention of Chinese contribution sent me to various articles about China and WWII. Because of course it is not taught in either Russia or the USA- so I learned something new.


 
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kwanfan1818

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In one of those two-sentence summaries in HS history class, we learned that China and Japan were at war with each other over a year before the start of WWII, but there was no context for how this might have impacted the outcome of WWII.
 

Ka3sha

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@Ka3sha's translation is excellent, but it sounds a little more definitive in English than how it sounded in Russian. It is closer to: I think it could be considered true..." or smth like that, and then he immediately goes into caveats about every country teaching through its own prism ( "darkened mirror")
I am very sensitive to the topic, but I think Jason replied the best he could. What could he say? He acknowledged the complexity of the topic.
It’s indeed an excellent but not mine translation :) I simply copied the FS-gossips one.
However, I agree with your understanding of Jason’s response and thought the same when reading it in Russian for the first time.
 

clairecloutier

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I would ask why was there a question anyhow about who won World War II?? What does that have to do with Jason? Questions about Schindler's List make sense, as he is skating to that music, and has discussed his family's history. General questions about WWII and who should receive credit for the victory do not seem relevant.
 

el henry

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I would ask why was there a question anyhow about who won World War II?? What does that have to do with Jason? Questions about Schindler's List make sense, as he is skating to that music, and has discussed his family's history. General questions about WWII and who should receive credit for the victory do not seem relevant.

Agreed; I find these questions from the Russian interviewers are less interesting. I don't care if Mikhail Kolyada knows what the US did in WWII and I don't care if Jason knows what Russia did. If I want to know what schoolchildren worldwide are taught for history, I will turn my attentions elsewhere. The Fox News characterization of Chicago's death rate in this interview was also :shuffle:.

I do like that the interviewer came right out and asked about Yagudin and other skating issues(y)
 

MsZem

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I know that interviews are edited, but he didn't understand the import of the question about WWII and I'm sure reinforced in their readership how myopic and jingoistic most Americans' education about history is and how the role of the Soviet Union and the people's fortitude, suffering, and sacrifice in defeating the Axis is generally obliterated in our learning.

Indeed. It was the Russians who liberated Berlin after all.
More relevant to a Jewish skater who skated Schindler's List program, the Red Army liberated Auschwitz.

I find the questions about WWII really odd in this kind of interview - Schindler's List isn't about the Battle of Britain, the Siege of Leningrad, or D-Day, it's about the Holocaust. Jason did well with his answers. Winning the war was a team effort, and naturally in each country there's an emphasis on its role and people's experiences. The more interesting answer in that part has to do with his own experiences and observation that we should have evolved more, and the importance for fighting for rights and freedoms and equality given this.

Jason always comes across as a thoughtful and kind person. I hope he's as delightful in real life as he seems online and in the media.
 

jenny12

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I would ask why was there a question anyhow about who won World War II?? What does that have to do with Jason? Questions about Schindler's List make sense, as he is skating to that music, and has discussed his family's history. General questions about WWII and who should receive credit for the victory do not seem relevant.

Agreed. I actually thought some of these questions were ridiculous but Jason handled them with a lot of grace. The framing of the Black Lives Matter question seemed off-putting to me. They seemed to try to trap him or something but I was impressed with how thoughtful and smooth Jason was with his answers.
 
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