Jennifer Robinson Skates into Politics

Jennifer Robinson, husband Shane Dennison and their faughter Reese.

Life never ceases to be an exciting adventure for Canada’s Jennifer Robinson. The six-time national champion embarked on a new career in late October when she entered the world of municipal politics as a city councillor in her adoptive hometown of Barrie, Ont.

Robinson won a hotly contested race by a slim margin of 23 votes. “I did not find out until the next day that I had won,” she said. “All of the results were in, but the final tally for Ward 8 did not come in until early the next morning. I knew it was going to be a tight race.

“I had skated in the Michael Weiss show the night before and I was so tired that I went to bed before all the results were in.”

When the 34-year-old first announced that she was going to run for a council position, her decision met with some opposition. “People told me I was too young and that I was not really a politician,” Robinson recalled.

“I ended up going back and knocking on the doors of a lot of the people who told me I was too young and they were like, okay you seem determined, you have my vote.”

Robinson said her husband, Shane Dennison, a coach at the Mariposa School of Skating, was totally behind her decision to run for office.

Ward 8 encompasses an area that includes Mariposa and the Barrie Skating Club. “I moved to Barrie when I was 13, that is where I went to school and the families of Ward 8 raised me, so it is great that I can now represent them,” she said.

Robinson described her new job as a part-time, full-time position. “I think it is important for me to meet with all the different groups in my Ward,” she said. “These people voted me in and I need to be there. One of the things skating taught me was that you have to work really hard to get where you want to be in the end. Pro skating taught me that every performance is like an audition.

“So I am taking my skating experience and applying it to my new career.”

One of Robinson’s campaign platforms was keeping recreational activities affordable. “When economic times are tough, one of the first things to go are the luxuries, which recreation essentially is,” she explained. “But doing things as a family is the type of stuff that makes memories.”

Though skating is on the back burner for the time being, Robinson is not shutting any doors. “I don’t see myself ever touring again but I like the one-off shows,” she said. “Performing was such a beautiful part of my life, it brought back that love of why I started skating when I was 8.”

Robinson and Dennison are enjoying life as a family. The couple has a daughter, Reese, who turned 1 on Feb. 2. “We are learning a lot of things from Reese. We are learning as fast as she can teach us,” Robinson said with a laugh. “She is just learning to walk. And we are expecting our second child in May. It is all very exciting.”

Originally published in April 2011