Figure skaters bring Sequim composer’s songs to World Championships

Jennifer Thomas hopes to hear her song played in 2022 Winter Olympics

Sequim composer Jennifer Thomas’ songs continue to be used by professional figure skaters, including three competitors at the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm, Sweden in late March. Her songs were a part of routines that helped Belgium, Japan and South Korea qualify spots at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Photo by Ron Southworth

Sequim composer Jennifer Thomas’ songs continue to be used by professional figure skaters, including three competitors at the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm, Sweden in late March. Her songs were a part of routines that helped Belgium, Japan and South Korea qualify spots at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Photo by Ron Southworth

SEQUIM — Jennifer Thomas’ “The Fire Within” keeps burning on ice rinks across the globe.

The Sequim composer/musician’s most recent fete includes three professional figure skaters who used songs she co-authored in late March at the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm, Sweden.

Rika Kihira of Japan and Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea skated to Thomas and Kimberly “The Rogue Pianist” StarKey’s “The Fire Within,” and Alexandra Feigin of Bulgaria skated to Thomas and Viktoria Tocca’s “Moonlight.”

“It’s been crazy,” Thomas said in a phone interview. “There’ve been so many skaters (along with these around the world).”

Growing fanbase

Thomas continues to learn of skaters using her music for routines, including Kihira skating to “A Beautiful Storm” in 2018 and 2019 for her freestyle routine.

Rika Kihira of Japan, seen here in February, skated to Jennifer Thomas and Kimberly “The Rogue Pianist” StarKey’s “The Fire Within” at the 2021 World Championships. The short routine earned her second place and seventh overall along with a spot for Japan at the 2022 World Championships. Facebook profile photo

Rika Kihira of Japan, seen here in February, skated to Jennifer Thomas and Kimberly “The Rogue Pianist” StarKey’s “The Fire Within” at the 2021 World Championships. The short routine earned her second place and seventh overall along with a spot for Japan at the 2022 World Championships. Facebook profile photo

This instance led to Thomas gaining a growing worldwide fan base, particularly in Japan.

But she said it’s been a tough season on skaters with many competitions cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of skaters had routines practiced and ready to go; Rika has only skated this routine two or three times in the last 18 months,” Thomas said.

At the World Figure Skating Championships, Kihira placed second in the short program using “The Fire Within” and placed seventh overall for women competitors, helping Japan qualify three women for the country to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Cha placed 10th overall in the men’s competition qualifying South Korea one berth at the Olympics, while Feigin placed 17th overall, qualifying one berth for Bulgaria.

Thomas said she and “The Fire Within” co-producer Glen Gabriel were “super excited” for the skaters and were checking in with one another during the championship. Along with her songs, one of Gabriel’s produced songs was used by a pair of skaters too, and the competition was in his home city.

Bucket list

Thomas said that in her youth when people asked her what she wanted to be as an adult, she’d said an ice skater in the Olympics.

“I kind of feel like part of my childhood dream is coming true; (it’s) being performed on the ice, and hopefully at the Olympics,” she said.

“This is just my hope. I don’t know if (Kihira and others are) going to keep the same program. I’m hoping she keeps it for the Winter Olympics. That’s a huge bucket list item for me.”

With more and more skaters picking up Thomas’ songs, she’s begun following the sport more and seeing herself tagged more on social media posts related to figure skating.

Thomas said Kihira’s coach picked “A Beautiful Storm” the first go-around, but Kihira chose “The Fire Within” this time.

“It’s exciting for me when they choose it,” she said.

NBC Sports commentators spoke to Kihira’s coach Stéphane Lambiel at the championships who said they won’t make any decision on her program until the off season.

Kihira is competing for Japan at the ISU World Team Trophy form Thursday through today, along with skaters from the United States, Canada and a few other countries on NBCSN and on Peacock Premium.

Back home

Thomas and her family have been juggling work and school from home during the pandemic.

“I’m blessed to be able to work from home,” she said as work continues on a new album.

No release date is set thanks to the uncertainty of the pandemic, but she said a tentative fall or winter release is possible.

“I’m able to do everything from home except the orchestra. I can do that remotely and watch sessions (in London) from Skype,” Thomas said.

“It all works and is manageable. An exciting part is being there though.”

In the last year she’s found some solitude with daily walks and frequent beach visits along with listening to her favorite playlists.

“Music has been a huge escape for me,” she said. “If I’m feeling a little anxious, music is awesome and a place I can go to create worlds.”

Thomas said a lot of her new music is inspired by Sequim with an ocean, earthy theme that’s atmospheric.

To hear Jennifer Thomas, find her on most major music platforms, visit jenniferthomasmusic.com and youtube.com/jennifer thomas.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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