British athlete Jenna McCorkell has represented her country at two Winter Olympics. Now she’s on a mission to up the game of women’s sportswear with her innovative new line.
Jenna started skating at the age of seven after being inspired by an article on a young skater in her local newspaper. Hooked, she began skating regularly in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, taking part in her first competition just months after she had learned to skate.
She would go on to develop as a talented international figure skater, training in Belfast, Coventry, Belgium and Dundee.
Between 2003 and 2014, Jenna held the title of British Champion, with a best score of 8th in Europe and 14th in the World.
She trained hard to represent Great Britain at two Winter Olympic Games before retiring from the competitive stage in 2014. Now the athlete and businesswoman is pursuing a very different venture.
When Jenna was competing, she found herself coming up with solutions for the way her sportswear would rub or snag. By the time she came to the end of her competitive skating career in Sochi, she had decided to make her vision of better-performing sportswear a reality.
She was sure that, as an athlete, she could develop a line of sportswear for female skaters that wouldn’t let them down.
Jenna said: “I have always been interested in sports clothing. Especially because there were many things which annoyed me about my own skating sportswear.
“For example, I always disliked the way my blades cut holes in the fabric around the ankle - a problem I’m sure many skaters have experienced.
“I wanted to create leggings with cut-and-snag-resistant panels to prevent problems like this from occurring. Soon my idea became an entire collection, as I kept finding new ways to improve sportswear - for every skater but specifically women and children.
“I worked for three years building my business plan, testing fabric, searching for the perfect manufacturer and putting my ideas into motion"
Jenna launched her company, Chique Sport, at the World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki in March this year.
She remains on the ice as a coach while she develops her business - her collection now also includes a children’s line.
Chique Sport is an online store which offers women's and children's sports and active wear, shipping both to the UK and worldwide.
Today Jenna spends much of her time attending global events and showing the line to competitors. She is due to attend several upcoming NISA competitions in the UK, where she will be cheering on skaters and displaying her wares.
She added: “I have been totally overwhelmed with the success of it. It honestly was and still is a complete whirlwind.
“I thrive when I’m pushing my limits, both as a competitive skater and now as the developer of a high-performance sportswear company.
“I did everything on my own to create this business, and I’ve been completely driven by my passion for skating and sport. It’s a huge project and it’s been my goal for many years. Today the collection can be enjoyed by any active or sporty person, not just skaters.
“I still love coaching and combine it with Chique Sport, but it can be hard balancing it with driving a business. I have my husband Kevin to thank for helping me so much: he covers my lessons when I have to fly away for meetings, trips to factories and other business-related work.
“It’s a lot of effort but I enjoy it. I think sport and exercise is so important for everyone - especially busy women! It helps me clear my head and set myself goals.
“It feels good to be able to offer something which doesn’t let any active woman down. Whether that’s a hard training session on the ice or a refreshing jog before work in the morning.”
NISA looks forward to seeing Jenna at an event in the near future and the witnessing the benefits and success of this innovative clothing range!