The rest of the world is now learning about Olympic figure skater Jason Brown what some in Highland Park have known for years.
He is very special.
The 19-year-old Highland Park native, ranked ninth in the country a year ago, brought the crowd at the National Championships Jan. 12 in Boston into a standing ovation as he recorded the best score in the free-skate program to secure a place on the United States Olympic Team.
Brown started skating locally at 4 and that is when Lizzy Temkin, 23, of Highland Park first met him. She watched him mature as a skater and recognized a special talent when they were young children.
“There was a spark to him,” Temkin said. “He would fly around the ice completely fearless. He would race around us all.
By the time he was done skating in Boston Jan. 12, rest of the country knew what Temkin has known for years, Starting next month in Sochi, Russia, the rest of the world will be to know him as well.
In Boston the crowd was giving Brown a standing ovation 10 seconds before he finished his routine to, according to the Chicago Tribune. He was thinking more about being one with the audience than he was about the Olympics, according to a story in USA Today.
“It was the most unbelievable audience it could have been, and I felt so supported out there. I went out there and performed for them," Brown said after his short program in the USA Today story.
Temkin speaks as highly of Brown as a person as she does of him as a skater. “Everywhere he goes he makes friends,” she said. “No matter who you ask about him they will tell you it’s not about him.”
When Brown was interviewed on WGN-TV a few days after making the team, he displayed the humility Temkin described.
"Honestly, I have no idea what's going on," Brown said on WGN. "It's so crazy. … I can't even believe where it got me and where I ended up and that I'm leaving in three weeks to go to Russia. I can't even get my mind wrapped around that."
Brown has not forgotten his roots either, according to Temkin. He regularly returns for the annual ice show each spring at the Centennial Ice Arena.