Meet Portsmouth’s naval officer who has championed ice skating
By day, Jonny Davies works at HMS Collingwood, Portsmouth.During his five-year career in the Royal Navy, he has passed his mine clearing diving course, is now studying mine warfare, reached the officer rank of Lieutenant and is looking forward to deployment next year.
However, separate from his naval life, Jonny has championed another skill and a unique sport which has helped him tot up the medals and trophies that now sit on his shelves.
Today, he can proudly call himself a Senior British Ice Dance Champion.
‘I started ice skating when I was around 11 years old,’ says Jonny, 25, from Drayton .
‘I would go to Gosport Ice Rink with a couple of friends and we just started going more and more.’
Jonny, who grew up in Gosport, says that he enjoyed playing about on the ice so much that he began going to lessons with a coach.
‘I was surprised with the amount of people who were skating.
‘But going to train four or five times a week wasn’t a chore for me.’
As he got older, Jonny says the training became harder to keep up with.
But becoming a professional figure skater was never his dream.
Jonny insists that his love for ice skating was always his hobby and despite his achievements, he plans to keep it that way.
‘I think male ice skaters have connotations of being a bit camp or being a bit weird, but it’s unique. I always get banter for it but nothing harsh,’ he laughs.
Like most sports and creative arts, there’s an opportunity to take exams.
And to reach an established senior level in figure skating, there are 10 to complete, compared to eight in most music exams.
Within eight years, Jonny had whizzed through all of them, sometimes travelling to Basingstoke and Bracknell to perform in front of a judge.
‘I think as I progressed I may have sacrificed friendships because I was training.
‘But as I got better, people were genuinely more interested in the sport.’
When he was 14 years old, Jonny started entering figure skating competitions.
‘I think I came fourth in my first competition, so I didn’t make the podium,’ he laughs.
‘I’m only competitive with myself.
‘Especially when I know I can do better.’
From January to July, Jonny’s life is dominated by the figure skating season.
However he says that when he joined the Royal Navy at 20 years old, he studied at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, where there was an unfortunate lack of ice rinks.
‘While I was there, there wasn’t any ice skating facilities so I took a year off.
‘But I returned to HMS Collingwood and then I could commit more time to figure skating,’ he smiles.
For the past 11 years, Jonny has competed as an ice dancer.
He has entered and won countless competitions – regionally, nationally and internationally – with annual visits to Copenhagen and various venues across the UK.
In 2017, HMS Temeraire in Burnaby Road, Portsmouth, sponsored Jonny for the figure skating season which saw him travel to Sheffield for the annual British Figure Skating Championships.
‘I qualified and I remember travelling up there and feeling nervous,’ recalls Jonny.
‘I thought as long as I didn’t fall, I would be happy.’
Jonny twizzled, spun and jumped before he skated off the ice to be crowned 2017 Senior Men’s British Ice Dance Champion.
And this year at the International Ice Dance Open, Copenhagen, Jonny competed as a figure skater and had to perform two standard programmes.
‘A programme is a length of music and this year, it was Argentine tango and then a freelance piece.
‘We had to include eight specific elements in the piece.
‘The score is divided into technical and presentation, which looks at your lines.’
Alongside his career in the navy, Jonny still gets down to the rink as often as he can, which is where he met his wife Kerry who was taking adult lessons at the time.
He qualified as a Level 2 Figure Skating Coach and now teaches students older and younger than himself to perfect routines on the ice.
‘It means some early mornings but some of my students are taking tests soon and are training hard. It is good to see other people enjoying it.’