From Ice Queen to Chique Designer

Sep 07, 2022
Jenna McCorkell

Coleraine ice skater Jenna McCorkell won an incredible 11 British championships in 12 years, competed at two Winter Olympic games, numerous European and World Championships and now she has her own range of her own range of clothing which is being worn by some of the world’s top female skaters as well as the celebrities and their partners on ITV’s Dancing on Ice.

Our Coleraine caught up with our very own Ice Queen to look back at her successful career and exciting future.

Jenna, you started skating at a very early age in the Jet Centre, Coleraine what attracted you to ice skating in the first place?

I started at 7-years of age after I saw a little girl in the newspaper with lots of trophies and I asked my parents if they would take me ice skating and the rest as they say is history!

When the Coleraine rink closed you had to make the 100-mile round trip to Dundonald on a daily basis,  that must have required a great deal of dedication from you and your parents?

I was about 12/13-years old when the Jet Centre closed. I was already on the British squad by that time so I was fully dedicated to going as far as I could. It took so much time and dedication from my parents especially with having two brothers and their businesses to take care of, but there was nothing they wouldn’t do for me. I am forever grateful for the opportunities they gave me.

You were one of the youngest skaters selected for Team GB and you had to spend a lot of time away from home, what was it that kept you so focused?

I was totally focused on my goal of becoming British Champion and an Olympian. I wanted to represent TeamGB at the Olympics and I was willing to do whatever it was going to take to get there.

You won an amazing 11 British championships in 12 years, seven international medals, competed at numerous European and World Championships and two Winter Olympics  - what was your stand out moment?

I am very proud of everything I achieved, there have been so many amazing moments from winning my first British Senior title to becoming an Olympian. I think one real stand out moment for me was walking out with TeamGB in the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympic Games, it all kind of just hit me!

You retired in 2014, why did you decide to do that?

My coach had always said to me that I would know myself when the time was right and I had no hesitation in the decision to retire from competition. I knew it was the right time, my body was exhausted and I had achieved all I wanted to.

There haven’t been any skaters from Northern Ireland since yourself to achieve success - why do you think that is and what would you like to see done to encourage more young people into the sport here?

I have recently started coaching in Dundonald Ice Bowl and there is definitely a fair amount of talent around. I do think that having only one ice rink in the whole of Northern and Southern Ireland is the biggest issue. We need more rinks and high level coaches in order to produce more champions.

You are married to Belgian skater Kevin van der Perren, like yourself a multiple national champion. You recently celebrated your 14th wedding anniversary - when did you meet and where do you live now?

We first met at the 2002 Junior World Championships in Oslo. We instantly became great friends and soon became husband and wife! We are currently living in Coleraine and Kevin is a full time coach working with the next generation of figure skaters in Dundonald Ice Bowl.

You have a gorgeous 2-year old son Ben, do you think he will take after his mum and dad and skate?

Ben is a very, very active little boy. He’s very into football at the minute and anything sporty he just loves it. With the rink bench over an hour drive for us, he doesn’t often go to the rink. We wouldn’t push him in the direction of skating but I would love him to do any other sport.

You are still involved in the world of ice skating - can you tell me more about what you do?

I am still coaching and teaching camps as well as travelling the world with my clothing brand Chique Sport.

When did you start Chique Sport and why?

I started the business because during my time competing I noticed a gap in the market for  clothing lines designed specifically for figure skaters that were stylish as well as practical. The clothes are made by a European manufacturer using Italian fabric and everything is despatched from a warehouse in Northern Ireland.

What makes it different from other training clothing?

I think the designs are really unique as well as some of the functional USP's (unique selling points)  like the cut resistant panels on the ankles of the leggings. There is also a large variety of colours and continuous new products coming out. 

What do you enjoy most about designing your various ranges?

I really love creating the collections and combining all my ideas and seeing them come together from the sketches to the final products. I get such a buzz from seeing the top skaters in the world wearing my clothes as well as the little tiny beginners, it makes me very proud. 

How has the business expanded since it began?

We have been growing year on year since the beginning in 2017. We ship to over 60 countries worldwide and visit many countries with our pop up shop to introduce the product to as many people as possible.

Chique Sport has also been the sportswear of choice for the GB national squad and has also been used for Dancing on Ice, are there any famous names in the world of ice skating wearing it?

We have many of the world’s top skaters wearing Chique Sport including the current World Silver Medalist Loena Hendrickx who is our ambassador as well as Olympic Champion Aljona Savchenko, along with many more!

What are the plans for the future?

I intend to continue growing the brand bigger and bigger and start to target the larger skating markets such as the USA and Canada etc.

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