Jason Brown plays to home crowd Tuesday when 'Stars on Ice' returns to Rosemont
U.S. champion and Olympic figure skater Jason Brown, a graduate of Highland Park High School, is part of a stellar cast touring with "Stars on Ice," which comes to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont Tuesday.
It's the fourth tour for Brown with "Stars on Ice," which features Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen, U.S. ice dance champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates, 2023 U.S. champions Ilia Malinin and Isabeau Levito and other stars.
Canadian icon Kurt Browning, a veteran of nearly 1,000 "Stars on Ice" performances, will conclude his 30th and final tour when it ends June 4 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
After 10 shows in Japan and 12 in Canada, Brown and company kicked off the American portion of the 2023 tour May 20 in Anaheim, California.
"So far, they've been awesome," Brown said. "I love the fact that we get to travel the country together, I get to be with my teammates and other international competitors and just perform. We do really fun numbers that are interactive. I love the camaraderie that we all share, and love that we get to go to the cities together."
Brown, who trained from ages 3 to 18 with coach Kori Ade along "the entire North Shore," has required up to 70 tickets for friends and family for past "Stars on Ice" appearances in Chicago.
Though he's been training in Toronto for the past five years, when he's not living out of a suitcase, his true home remains where he lived growing up -- his childhood home in Highland Park.
"I really want to spend more time there," Brown said.
Among a cast of 13 skaters, he will perform two solo routines of about 3 minutes each, in addition to four group numbers ranging from about 4 to 10 minutes.
Brown performs his individual routines to a Backstreet Boys medley and to Josh Groban's version of "The Impossible Dream." He created one of his solo routines specifically for "Stars on Ice" with the other routine an adaptation of his normal free skate program.
In competition, his focus is on nailing specific aspects of his routine to score points. In shows, he gets the opportunity to "immerse" himself in the performance and connect with his fellow skaters, and with the crowd.
"Skating is one of those sports that you can watch on television and enjoy it, but there's nothing like watching it live," he said. "I just hope people want to come check it out. It's a really great show, very entertaining."
Though 28 and on the older side of men's figure skating competition, Brown said he is feeling refreshed and invigorated -- by his latest results, and by "Stars on Ice," with which he also toured last year.
At 19, Brown was on the U.S. team that won bronze at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and he also placed ninth individually. He won at the U.S. Nationals in 2015 and placed fourth in the world that year, the first of four World Championship appearances to date.
At the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, Brown placed sixth in the men's singles.
"I really thought that after the 2022 Olympics I was going to be done and was going to retire. I took the fall off with that mentality. Then I had a little bit of the bug to do a little bit more," he said.
It became a lot more -- a silver medal at the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships this January in San Jose, California. Retirement from competition may have to wait a while.
"I've felt a little more of a balance in my life," he said. "It kind of re-energized me, so we'll see. What was a definite 'not' became a 'hmmm, who knows,'" Brown said.
After the U.S. leg of the "Stars on Ice" tour ends in Pennsylvania, Brown will mull over his competitive future, take a little time off before he repacks his suitcase for another tour to Japan.
As Groban sings in one of Brown's routines, this is a dream.
"I'm just getting to do what I love," Brown said. "It's so cool that I get to do that for a living."