BOSTON – Jeremy Abbott admitted the United States men's figure skating squad faces a "daunting" task to compete for medals after he and Jason Brown were selected for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Abbott won his fourth national title on Sunday but is not considered among the medal favorites for Sochi after placing ninth in Vancouver four years ago. Brown will take part in his first Games.
"The depth in men's figure skating is daunting," Abbott said. "The number of world-class guys is scary and the task for me is to prove I am there and can stand alongside them and be one of that group."
In 2010, the U.S. headed north with a star-studded Olympic team. Evan Lysacek was the reigning world champion and Johnny Weir was a former world bronze medalist, while Abbott had beaten both at Nationals.
This time around, the landscape has shifted significantly. Canada's Patrick Chan and Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu are strongly favored, while both Americans will be considered a long shot.
Brown secured his spot ahead of pre-Nationals favorite Max Aaron, delivering a crowd-pleasing performance in the free skate to comfortably secure second place behind Abbott and put himself in a strong position in the eyes of the selectors.
Unlike in the ladies' event, where Mirai Nagasu was bumped to make way for Ashley Wagner – a fourth-place finisher with strong Grand Prix results this season – the selection committee stuck with the men's finishing order on Sunday.
Abbott's routine appeared far more mature and defined than four years ago and if he executes perfectly next month, he could push himself into medal contention in Sochi. Brown may need to take more risks than he was prepared to do at Nationals, where his display was entertaining and technically solid but was relatively low-risk.
As the U.S. Championships came to a close, rumors circulated that Nagasu, who finished fourth in Vancouver but has struggled since, was considering a formal appeal to the decision to leave her off the team. But on Sunday evening, Nagusa released a statement through U.S. Figure Skating to end the speculation.
“I’m disappointed in the decision," Nagasu said. "Though I may not agree with it, I have to respect the decision the federation made. And I’m grateful to everyone who has supported me and look forward to what comes next in my skating career.”
A formal appeals process was available to Nagasu, but in order to have a favorable ruling, she would likely have had to convince officials that the selection committee did not follow the proper procedures.