Hawaii's Champion Figure Skater

Defying expectations, Hawaii has its own champion figure skater.
Award-winning figure skater Jennifer Jones is
known to include unique themes and music in
her choreography, ranging from traditional hula
to over-the-top Bollywood musicals.

Photo: Kirk Lee Aeder





When we think of famous athletes in Hawaii, we think of outdoor summer sports. Duke Kahanamoku was a swimmer and surfer, for example. Brian Clay is a gold-medal-winning decathlete. Then there’s Jennifer Jones—figure skater.

Her story is on par with that of the Jamaican bobsled team dramatized by the Disney film Cool Runnings, in which a group of islanders find themselves competing in a sport thought to be out of their element. “I think about the Jamaican bobsled team all the time,” says the 35-year-old figure skater.

When Jones took to the ice at the 2009 U.S. National Showcase Figure Skating in Colorado Springs, some spectators were surprised. “Coming from Hawaii, you get a lot of strange looks,” she says. “When they first announced me, they said, representing Hawaii?’ almost like they had a question mark at the end.”

Jones competed in three events on the master’s track—one of 10 divisions specifically for figure skaters at a higher age range and experience level—taking home the bronze in the light entertainment division, silver in the dramatic division and gold in the extemporaneous division. “You can’t really prepare for that one,” she says.

Jones explains how contestants are placed in a room with officials, played a song they may have never heard before and then sent out onto the ice to perform a routine without any practice or planned choreography. “I’ve had just about everything, from country to rap to classical to soundtracks.” The judges look for creativity, uniqueness and interpretation of the music. “It really challenges the choreographer inside of you.”

Jones’ obsession with the sport began as a child living in Edmonds, Wash., watching childhood hero Rosalynn Sumners compete in the 1984 Olympics on TV. “I was just transfixed,” she says.

“When they first announced me, they said,
‘representing Hawaii?’”  —Jennifer Jones

Jones begged her parents for skating lessons, and they finally agreed. Jones’ hobby would eventually turn into a lucrative lifestyle that has taken her all over the world to compete and teach figure skating. She is currently an instructor at the Ice Palace in Aiea.

What brought her to Hawaii? Childhood vacations, her parents’ relocation to Oahu and an inspiring Mainland day spent scraping ice off her car windshield with an old Bank of Hawaii credit card. Thirteen years later, Jones is teaching both young and old how to find their bearings, and, if they’re up to it, dance across the ice. Her next performance is March 11 through 14, when figure skaters from around the world will meet to compete in Skate Aloha at the Ice Palace. She is then off to Santa Rosa, Calif., for the Crystalline Classic, held March 17 through 20.