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U.S. Figure Skater Jason Brown Poised for Surprise Olympic Breakout

A month after his dazzling second-place finish at the U.S. national championships, Jason Brown is in the running for Olympic bronze.

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    In a sport governed by a scoring system that values big leaps, figure skater Jason Brown is a bit of an outlier.

    For one, his repertoire doesn’t include a quadruple jump, a move considered a necessity to win an Olympic medal.

    But what he lacks in power he makes up for in artistry and charisma.

    That formula has brought him to figure skating's biggest stage.

    Brown, just 19 and once considered a long shot at making the U.S. Olympic team, will perform among the top skaters in the world on Friday in Sochi.

    By scoring a personal best 86.00 in Thursday’s short skate, Brown earned a place in the final grouping in the free skate program. On Sunday, he finished fourth in the free skate in the team competition, helping the U.S. win bronze.

    "All year in this program, in every competition I have gone to, I have gotten a personal best," Brown said after competing on Thursday, smiling broadly. "I didn't want to stop in the Olympics."

    While Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Canada’s Patrick Chan battle for gold on Friday, Brown is one of a handful of skaters within reach of bronze.

    Brown is expected to skate a routine that has already become Internet gold: the loose-limbed, quick-stepping program to a song from “Riverdance” that he performed last month at the U.S. National Championships in Boston, which earned him a spot on the Olympic team. The crowd was on its feet before he’d finished.

    To say he’s a crowd favorite is to understate things a bit.

    A video of his "Riverdance" routine has been viewed on YouTube 3.8 million times.

    His hometown of Highland Park, Ill. carved a 10-foot ice sculpture of him.

    The test for Brown will be to ride that musical charm and intricate footwork to the Olympic podium.

    He’s scheduled to skate last on Friday, serving, perhaps appropriately, as the competition’s finale.