For Jason Brown, recently named in the US Olympic Team, the road to Beijing started four years ago, when he decided to make a fundamental training change, move to Toronto Cricket Club – and start from scratch. For a part of this Olympic cycle, he would be joined in this journey by another wonderful skater, Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva, who had also found a good home in Toronto, with coaches Tracy Wilson and Brian Orser.
From those times, a candid Jason remembers a day when, driving to the rink, Evgenia put a sticker with 2022 Olympics on his car – and he continued to look at the sticker from that day on, as a reminder of what was ahead.
Fast-forward to more recent times, Jason Brown started this season – and the last and most important part of his campaign of claiming an Olympic spot in the US team – in October 2021, at the Challenger event Finlandia Trophy in Espoo.
He would win the gold in Finland, finishing ahead of Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada and Dmitri Aliev.
And, eyes on the goal, he would move to have a very successful season, medalling in both of his Grand Prix events and qualifying for the Grand Prix Final.
And so this photo-series that we are publishing – The Olympic Season in Photos – really lives up to its name: that’s how the journey to Olympics started for some of the incredible athletes out there.
Focusing on Jason’s triumph in Espoo, this photo-journey will actually tell the story of the men’s event at 2021 Finlandia Trophy. No less than 26 athletes gathered at the start – and you’ll see some of them through the eyes and lens of our very inspired photographer in place.
2021 Finlandia Trophy
October 7-10, 2021
Gold: Jason Brown, USA
Silver: Mikhail Kolyada, Russia
Bronze: Dmitri Aliev, Russia
4th: Keegan Messing, Canada
5th: Evgeni Semenenko, Russia
6th: Matteo Rizzo, Italy
7th: Arlet Levandi, Estonia
8th: Lukas Britschgi, Switzerland
9th: Tomás Llorenç Guarino Sabaté, Spain
10th: Gabriele Frangipany, Italy
14th: Camden Pulkinen, USA
15th: Donovan Carrillo, Mexico
Men’s podium at 2021 Finlandia Trophy in Espoo, with a very happy Jason Brown in focus; he won the gold of the event.
Jason Brown skating his exquisite, detailed “Sinnerman” – a short program for the ages, choreographed by Rohene Ward
The music that John Williams composed for the movie “Schindler’s List” is not an easy one to skate to – for so many reasons. But Jason becomes a part of it while skating. A long program choreographed by David Wilson.
Golden Jason Brown in Espoo
Sharing the joy with teammates Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, bronze medalists in the pair’s event at 2021 Finlandia Trophy
Looking for Jason? He’s found a good spot under the American flag
That’s how 2021 Finlandia Trophy finished for Jason Brown: with a glorious smile and a gold medal to top it all
What a beautiful photo: Mikhail Kolyada in Espoo, drawing power, confidence from his coaches Alexei Mishin and Tatiana Prokofieva, seconds before taking the ice for his short program
Mikhail’s short program this season is set to music from the ballet “The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky. Choreo. by Ilia Averbukh
With his thoughts only: Mikhail Kolyada, before having his name called for the free skate
Mikhail Kolyada started his season with a free skate choreographed by Nikita Mikhailov to the music from the movie “Schindler’s List”. He would later return to “The White Crow”, but, at the beginning of October, Mikhail’s plan was to embody Oskar Schindler. And he did it convincingly – just look at the details in the photos taken in Espoo.
Discussing the performance with coach Alexei Mishin
Family-portrait in the Kiss and Cry
We don’t know what Mikhail Kolyada was up to at the moment, with the flowers and the gesturing – but it’s too nice of a photo not to share. Mikhail won the silver medal of this season’s Finlandia Trophy. In the background, Jason Brown – and the photo actually shows the two skaters sharing the same soundtrack of “The Schindler’s List” for their free programs in Espoo.
Dmitri Aliev in Espoo, at the beginning of October 2021, skating his short program to “Pilgrims on a Long Journey”, choreo. by Olga Glinka and Valentin Molotov
Alongside his coach Evgeni Rukavicin
For his free skate, Dmitri chose Anthony Hopkins’ beautiful piece “And the Waltz Goes On”. Unfortunately, this season didn’t go as planned, but, at the beginning of it, the hopes were high – Dmitri won the bronze medal in Espoo.
Canada’s Keegan Messing also started his Olympic season in Espoo, at 2021 Finlandia Trophy – and, a couple of months later, he would win the national title and be named in Canada’s team for the Olympics. There you have him skate his short program to “Never Tear Us Apart”, choreo. by Lance Vipond.
Keegan was very pleased with his SP (he actually won this segment of the men’s event), hence his enthusiast reaction in the Kiss and Cry
For the free skate this Olympic season, Keegan Messing skates to “Lullaby for an Angel” by Karl Hugo and “Home” by Phillip Phillips, a program choreographed by Lance Vipond. Keegan Messing would finish 2021 Finlandia Trophy on the 4th place.
Alongside coach Ralph Burghart in the Kiss and Cry
Russia’s Evgeni Semenenko would finish 2021 Finlandia Trophy on the 5th place – there you have him skate/fly his SP to “What Is It About Her?”, choreo. by Nikita Mikhailov
…while Evgeni’s long program is set to “The Master and Margarita” (choreo. by Nikita Mikhailov) – a music that, no doubt, he embodies to the fingertips.
Italy’s Matteo Rizzo also debuted his Olympic programs in Espoo, finishing the event on the 6th place. For his short, Matteo decided to go on Eurovision-mode: he skates to the marvelous music of the Italian band Måneskin.
But it’s the free program that suits Matteo like a glove: he skates to “Two Men in Love” and takes everyone’s breath away with the beauty of his gliding. Matteo won the free segment of the men’s event in Espoo.
…and we’re also showing you glimpses of Camden Pulkinen’s programs this season. Camden finished 2021 Finlandia Trophy on the 14th place – but, trust us, this isn’t at all relevant when it comes to the quality of his skating. He was not ready in Espoo – but he’d skate a wonderful set of programs at US Nationals a couple of months later. SP to “Come What May” from the movie “Moulin Rouge!”, choreo. by Tom Dickson & Pasquale Camerlengo
Free skate to “Bésame Mucho”, choreo. by Tom Dickson & Pasquale Camerlengo
Donovan Carrillo’s charisma? You can easily sense it in these photos as well – Donovan skates his short program to “Black Magic Woman” and “Shake It” by Carlos Santana. Choreo. by Benoît Richaud
…while the free skate is set to “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”, “Sway”, “Maria” and “Bailar”, choreo. by Gregorio Nuñez.
Bonus-photos. And because you travelled so far with us into the story of the men’s event in Espoo, there you have some beautiful, relaxed backstage photos of the medalists, all smiles, all laughter, during the press conference after the medal ceremony.
Featuring Dmitri Aliev, Mikhail Kolyada, Jason Brown.
[Intro and selection of photos by Florentina Tone/photos by Askar Ibragimov, Espoo]
TO FOLLOW: Women’s event at 2021 Finlandia Trophy in Espoo