From hockey skates to figure skates
by Liz Montroy|07 DEC 2020
Jessica Campbell won gold for Canada at the 2010 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship.
photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images
For as long as she can remember, power skating has captivated Jessica Campbell.

“Power skating was always something that made me tick,” said Campbell. “Throughout my entire career, any time we had a skating session or I went to camps, I always was probably the only kid in camp that was most excited to do power skating without pucks.”

Her love of skating has taken Campbell far, with her accolades including a U18 World Championship gold medal, a World Championship silver medal, and a CWHL championship title – and now she can add a second-place finish on Battles of the Blades to the list. 

While as a child Campbell was often intrigued by the figure skaters she passed at the rink, she never thought that she would find herself even wearing figure skates, not to mention competing as a figure skater on live television.

However, this fall Campbell competed on the sixth season of Battles of the Blades, a Canadian television show in which hockey players are paired up with figure skaters and perform weekly routines in front of a panel of judges in an effort to win money for different charities.

Skating for the mental health non-profit Do It For Daron (DIFD), Campbell was teamed up with ice dancer Asher Hill and finished the season finale just behind the winning pair of 2018 Olympic bronze medallist Wojtek Wolski and figure skater Meagan Duhamel.
“We were really challenging ourselves, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, to put it all out there and then, week to week, hit the reset button and learn new choreography, new steps,” said Campbell. 

As one of three female hockey players that competed (the others being former Canadian national team forwards Jennifer Botterill and Meghan Agosta), Campbell believes that even though they were on figure skates, their appearance on the show can help elevate the profile of women’s hockey. 

“I think the three of us, we all were skating for different charities that were meaningful to us, but we all experienced the same discomfort of putting ourselves out there,” said Campbell. “[We were] putting ourselves in a position to model for youth – not just young girls, but boys as well – that you can do truly anything you set your mind to… regardless of who you are, where you come from, what you do, your gender, race – you’re entitled and deserving to the same opportunities”
Whether you are good at it, or it’s just something that sparks joy and passion, go for it, because if it’s scary, it has meaning. If it’s terrifying, there’s a purpose behind it, and it matters.
Jessica Campbell
Former Canadian national women’s team player
While the show is now over, skating is still a key part of Campbell’s day-to-day life. Over the last three years, she has transitioned from training full-time with the Canadian national team to running her own business (JC Powerskating) and working as a power skating coach. She has worked with the Swedish Hockey League’s Malmö Redhawks as well as with players such as Brent Seabrook, Tyson Jost, Natalie Spooner, Joel Edmundson, Luke Schenn and Blayre Turnbull.

“I never dreamt of being a coach, or had never had that thought as a player ‘I’m for sure going to coach when I’m done,’” said Campbell, who was working in marketing for Sheldon Kennedy prior to retiring from Team Canada. “But when I transitioned out of playing and I was given an opportunity to be a skating coach… I found myself diving in fully.”

While there are still significant differences between figure skating and skating for hockey, there are many things Campbell learned while on Battle of the Blades that she is excited to incorporate into her coaching practice.

“I was constantly going through this process in my head the whole journey of how does this connect to hockey,” said Campbell. “That was almost the hardest part of the process and the journey, [that] as I was trying to be the best skater I was also studying and analyzing and almost overanalyzing and breaking everything down.”

“I knew the terminology going in, but now I have a better understanding, firsthand experience learning it and testing it… Now I can demonstrate things that in a million years I wasn’t able to even do or think of coming up with.”

Being still just as captivated by power skating as she was as a child, Campbell is looking forward to seeing where her passion for skating will take her next.

“I have the best job in the world… [I have the] opportunity to help support athletes’ dreams and help them realize the potential they didn’t think they had,” said Campbell. “I’m really excited to see how this is going to transition into my next future adventure.”