SOCHI, Russia - Jason Brown was recently preparing for a practice skate on Evgeni Plushenko's home ice.

Brown is a 19-year-old who trains in Monument and studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He's surprised virtually everyone, including himself, by earning a place on the U.S. Olympic Team. Plushenko is a four-time medalist for the Russians, and two of those medals are Golds.

"Hey!" Brown remembers saying to Plushenko. (Nearly every sentence Brown speaks ends with an exclamation mark.) "I'm a big fan of yours!"

"No, no, no," Plushenko replied. "I'm a big fan of yours."

A skating legend complimented a relative novice. This sums up Brown's Olympic experience. He's thrilled to be here, and thrilled is the right word. Brown competes Thursday in the men's short program.

He shook Russian leader Vladimir Putin's hand after Sunday's Team Skate competition.

"Incredible!" Brown said. "It's incredible that I shook Putin's hand!"

He enjoys his practice time on Russian ice.

"The ice here is amazing!" he said. "It feels great!"

And he savors a chance to compete in the Olympics, a chance he still can barely believe. He finished second in January to Jeremy Abbott at U.S. National competition in Boston.

"It's all been so fast," Brown said. "It's crazy how fast it has gone by. I still can't believe I'm a national medalist."

A few minutes after talking with Plushenko, Brown was skating along when he saw a set of Olympic rings near the ice.

"It was so exciting!" Brown said. "It hasn't really sunk in yet!"

Twitter: @davidramz