Golden Skate

Jennifer Robinson: Online Interview

By the age of 10, Canada's Jennifer Robinson she landed her first axle.

Jennifer Robinson, nicknamed “Tiger,” began skating when she was eight years old. By the age of 10 she landed her first axle, and at 16 she won her first skating title. 

This six-time Canadian Champion has become well known among North American skating audiences for her fluid and graceful movements that mimic those of a ballerina. She is a performer who has the ability to combine artistry with athleticism. 

In a skating career that has spanned almost ten years, Jennifer has competed in seven World Championships. She has performed as special Guest Star of the Elvis Stojko Tour of Champions through Canada, and in the Skate the Nation Canada Tour. Jennifer has also made numerous television appearances throughout North America. In 2002, she dazzled the crowds she starred on a 21-city Canadian Skate the Nation tour.

Barrie resident Robinson, 26, finished in the top 10 at the 2002 and 2003 World Figure Skating Championships and achieved a best placement ever when she finished second in her qualifying group in Washington. She also had strong placings on the ISU Grand Prix circuit last season finishing fourth at both MasterCard Skate Canada International and the Bofrost Cup on Ice. “I love training and competing,” said Robinson, “and Skate Canada has been very supportive and my husband and family have always supported my career decisions. I’m a classic late bloomer and I still feel that I can push myself further. I have been working on my triple Lutz-triple toe combination and hope to have two in my programs for next season.”

Although Jennifer spends a great deal of time training and traveling, she still remains very close with her parents, Cliff and Louise, and her brother Jason. Talent on the ice seems to be in Jennifer’s blood. Three of her mother’s brothers played hockey. Additionally, her brother, standing 6 feet- 2 inches and weighing 200 pounds, was drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 NHL entry draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Joann: Which skaters have been the most inspirational to you?

Jennifer: I think that the skaters that have been most inspirational to me are Scott Hamilton and Kurt Browning. Both these athletes have contributed to their sport leaving it more enriched than when they found it. Plus, both are incredibly talented as skaters.

VC: Do you only wear your necklace when you skate or do you wear it during normal days also?

Jennifer: I do wear my necklace all the time, not just for competitions. I will get to wear the necklace until it is time to auction it off at the end of May. Check out my website to look for details to raise money for one of my charities of choice.

Anonymous: How has married life affected your training, if at all?

Jennifer: Married life has not affected my training at all, and I think that it has actually enriched it. I am lucky to have a strong, supportive husband who is a coach at my rink, and it is great to train with him there.

Anonymous: What is the most difficult element that you work on and wish you could keep out of a program but can’t?

Jennifer: I think for me the most difficult element is my triple flip. I would love to take it out, especially the short because of the pressure that puts on it, but to be competitive I need it to fulfill my goals.

Anonymous: Did you ever compete against Karen Preston? Which Canadian lady do you think is the best you’ve competed against?

Jennifer: I never did compete against Karen Preston, but I did compete against Josee Chouinard. I believe that she was the toughest Canadian woman that I have competed against because she was the complete packaged athlete.

Anonymous: Are you still splitting your training time between the US and Canada?

Jennifer: I am not splitting my time between the US and Canada. I decided to stay here in Barrie, Ontario because this past summer there were wonderfully talented young women training here, and that was a factor in my staying in Canada.

Matt: If you were to skate two perfectly clean programs at the World Championships or Olympics where do you think you would place?

Jennifer: If I wear to skate two perfectly clean programs at the Olympic games, it would be too difficult to put a number on it. I skated a clean short and after one mistake in the long, ended up in 7th place. So I would have to say that I would place higher than that.

Matt: What has been your “personal” best skating performance?

Jennifer: I think that my personal best skating performance would have to be the second long program at the World Championships in Nagano, Japan. I had a clean long program which was a personal best and it came one day after a disastrous short program. This is not only my personal best because of the clean skate, but also because of coming back from a personal disappointment.

Mary M. of Nova Scotia: You have been a great role model for skaters and for me as an adult competitive skater. Have you thought of becoming a judge in the future or a full-time coach?

Jennifer: I have always thought of becoming a coach because of the experience that I have gained by being coached by great coaches. As a competing athlete from the many competitions that I have entered as well as competing as an athlete that has come into her own at a much later age, I think that I could help kids overcome obstacles that I have already been through.

Kevin D.: I’m a figure skater on the pre-preliminary level. What advice could you give to a beginning skater like me? Thank you and congratulations on your 6th National title!

Jennifer: I think that the best advice I could give you would be to always have some small goals that you can achieve weekly or monthly as you work your way to your larger dream goals.

Anonymous: Do you think Elena and Anton should have won Olympic gold?

Jennifer: I think that Jamie and David, and Elena and Anton came to the great conclusion to share the Olympic gold medal. They both competed hard, and the immense pressure both teams were under was amazing. They both should get the gold alone for just stepping onto the ice.

Anonymous: Have you been practicing triple Axels?

Jennifer: I have been practicing triple Axels and they have been coming along quite well. I do practice them at competition practice as well and will maybe one day put it in the program.

Anne: Have you ever been discouraged by a coach or official because you did not fit what the norms for a preferred body type are for figure skaters?

Jennifer: I have been discouraged before by many people, especially the media. People thought that I was too tall to be a figure skater and never thought that I would make it. I usually don’t listen to other people, and keep myself surrounded with people who believe in me. If you are not that lucky, just remember that you know that you are capable of greatness, so keep pushing forward.

Andrea: Do you plan to tour with any ice production companies in the future? If so, can you share any details?

Jennifer: I will be going on tour with HSBC Stars On Ice which goes through Canada. This is my first time on this tour and I am so excited to be skating in a show with such talented skaters.

Mary: What inspires your skating the most?

Jennifer: I think what inspires my skating most is my wanting to try to do more technically every time I get the chance. Artistically, I feel that I am capable of telling the audience about my experiences in my life as a story, and that is so powerful. I love being able to do that.

Marcia: What material did you string your pearls with so that you’d be confident they wouldn’t come apart during a program? I would love to wear pearls, but fear having “52 pickup”!

Jennifer: When I was wearing my pearls, they never did come apart. They weren’t strung together with any special material, I didn’t really think about the fact that they may come apart.

Cara: You often seem to come back after the short program with a better long program. Do you prefer the free skate? And why do you think it is often your strongest performance? My boyfriend believes it’s because you get angry with yourself if you don’t do everything you’re capable of in the short, and that your anger fuels your long program! Is this true, or is he off the mark? We’re both big fans and we’re always cheering for you!

Jennifer: I do come back from the short program with the long program, because I enjoy skating the long much more than the short. I feel that the short program has a bit more pressure on it than I like. So I am a bit angry with my performance often because I know that I am capable of doing better than that.

Rachel L.: Backstage before a major competition, what is your normal routine?

Jennifer: My normal routine backstage is usually arriving before the competition about an hour early. I then sit around and have a coffee for about ten minutes or so. Then I start with my warm-up to get my body going. With about 10 minutes before I go on the ice, I put my dress on, take my skates out of the change room and put them on in the hallway.

Arwen: Do you design any of your skating dresses? They are always so beautiful!

Jennifer: I used to design them with my coach a long time ago, but this season the long program was designed by Jef Billings, and the short was designed by a woman from Barrie.

Paula: What is the most embarrassing moment you have experienced on the ice during your career?

Jennifer: The most embarrassing moment I have experienced on the ice was the time that I was trying a test when I was younger and I was coming back to the boards and tripped and fell right in front of them. It was like a toe pick moment. I almost hit my head on the board, I was that close.

Toni R.: How much fun is it working with Brian Orser as much as you do?

Jennifer: I love when I get the chance to work with Brian Orser. He has a wicked sense of humor that just makes you work that much harder because he is so funny. He has helped me so much in my career and I owe him so much. He is incredibly talented as well and when he is choreographing for you, he is willing to work with you and teach you some new things that will take you to that next level.

Toni R.: What’s your favorite move-in-the-field to either do or to watch?

Jennifer: My favorite move in the field is an outside Bauer. I can’t do it and really wish that I could. It is beautiful and not used in skating nearly enough.

Garrett K.: After your skating career is over, what kinds of things do you want to pursue? Do you want to have a family?

Jennifer: After I am done skating I would really like to be a sports commentator on television. I would like to do all sports because I enjoy athletics and athletes on all levels. I would also like to have a family eventually, and possibly coach as well.

Anonymous: I greatly enjoyed both of your programs at the Olympic Games. How did you get the motivation to perform so well at this competition?

Jennifer: I don’t think that I could possibly have been more motivated to compete better at an Olympic Games. I didn’t have any pressure and I made sure that I enjoyed every single aspect of what the Games are truly about.

Anonymous: How old were you when you first started to skate? I read in a book that your coach had gotten you from Novice to Senior competitions in only six years?

Jennifer: I started skating with my family at the age of two. I started taking lessons at the age of 8. I moved to Barrie, Ontario at 13 to take lessons from Doug Leigh and Michelle Leigh and they got me from Novice to Senior in four years. I never realized that until you asked.

Paula: Thank you, Jennifer, for taking the time to answer questions from your fans! We all wish you success in your future endeavors and are looking forward to seeing you compete next season. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Jennifer: I would just like to thank all of my fans who have supported me through the years, through good and bad! You’ve helped make my career even more gratifying!