Update Feb. 7: Jason Brown is in sixth place after the short program and will compete in the final group of the free skate.

Original: After Jason Brown skated at this year’s National Championships, it wasn’t a given that he’d be joining the US Figure Skating delegation at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

When Brown did not include a quadruple jump in his short program and fell during his only quad in the free skate, he finished in fourth place. However, the US Figure Skating International Committee nodded to Brown’s experience in international competition and named him to the Team USA Olympic squad.

This will be the 27-year-old’s second Olympics after he was part of the United States contingent in the 2014 Sochi Games. During the team competition, Brown represented the United States in the free skate program and his fourth place finish helped clinch a bronze medal. During the individuals, he finished ninth.

Now after missing the cut during the 2018 Games, Brown is back to add one more Olympic chapter to his story.

Brown embraces fellow Olympic figure skater Ashley Cain-Gribble.

Brown began skating at age five in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park and won a US Junior National Title at age 15 in 2010. Five years later, he became a US Champion by defeating Adam Rippon by 2.5 points at that year’s Nationals, the youngest male skater to claim a national title since Johnny Weir.

Then last year during Pride Month, Brown came out as gay in a post on his Instagram and Twitter accounts. In doing so, he acknowledged that his journey to acceptance has been a mostly fortuitous one and empathized with those who experienced a tougher path:

“I am who I am, and I’ve always been fortunate to be surrounded by people who made me feel like that was enough. I realize that so many confront a different reality. History hasn’t always been kind in the fight for equality, and acceptance is an ongoing one…

“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…”

That story now includes being part of a record-setting Team LGBTQ roster at the 2022 Games. There are two major differences for Brown at this year’s Olympics. One is that he’s out. And the other is that he will be skating without his trademark pony tail.

“You know what? It was so funny,” he enthused to NBC, “When I first cut it, everyone was like, ‘Oh, is the power in your hair?’ You know, it’s that whole myth. And I cut it and I went straight to the rink. I tried all my jumps, I could land everything, and I was at ease. But no, I have not looked back and I really do enjoy it.”

After all, even after Samson had his hair shorn by Delilah, he never lost his power to land a triple lutz.

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