1999-2000 Pacific Coast Sectionals, 1st in Adult Gold
1999 Adult Mountain Cup Bronze Medalist
1999 Adult National Gold Level Bronze Medalist
1998 Adult Masters Pair champion, with Molly Johnson
1998 Pacific Coast Sectionals, 6th in Adult Gold
1997 Adult National Silver Level Silver Medalist
1996 Adult National Bronze Level Gold Medalist
Jay Kobayashi of the Skating Club of San Francisco is an adult skater, coach, and hairdresser. His media coverage has included an article in the "Athletes of the Gay Games" issue, August 18, 1998, of the Advocate, and "Breaking the Ice" by Jim Provenzano.
You know he's somebody right away, before you even know who he is. The thick glossy hair, the flashing teeth, the full-length black leather coat. Then he takes the ice and his incisive golden blades take over. Jay Kobayashi, skating champion.
The adult skating movement was made for people like Kobayashi. Now 39 and an Adult Gold skater, he didn't start skating until age 23, but has developed élite-level stroking and connecting moves, such as his masterful spread eagles. His skills suggest full-time training, but the reality is typical of the adult skater: he juggles 15 hours a week on the ice at Yerba Buena (both skating and coaching his 12 students, of whom 11 are adults) with a full-time job as a hairstylist at Hair on 18th in San Francisco. He works in the salon until 10 each night; then it's home, and up at 6 to skate.
As is typical of adult skaters, Kobayashi, who has competed in Adult Nationals since their inception in 1996, loves the sport enough to pour enormous financial resources into it. He jokes -- well, half-jokes -- that when asked, "What would you be doing if you weren't skating?" he says he would be driving around his brand-new Mercedes. His four lessons a week add up, but it's worth it for him to participate in skating, which he calls "something that comes from way, way, way inside -- just to bring out, to create the emotion."
Kobayashi has won a national title in pairs, with Molly Johnson, but doesn't know if he'd consider training same-sex pairs. "It depends," he said. "If the other boy was a pair skater to begin with, as well. I could never be the girl. Too scary. I'm not going to be lifted above someone's head!"
When he started skating, he said his main goal was "to make it look like I know how to skate." It is clear that this goal has translated into an understanding of presentation. You can still see it in the silky glide of his edges and his exhortations to his students to "skate pretty!"
Kobayashi counts Brian Orser and Katarina Witt among his idols. "I connect with them because they've been doing it for such a long time," he said. Rather than being wowed by the jumping prowess of the current eligibles, he respects the pure skating of Dorothy Hamill.
Before skating, Kobayashi expressed his creativity as a ballet and jazz dancer -- "in 9th grade, I wanted to be a backup dancer for Ann-Margret or Shirley MacLaine," he laughed. He also designs and sews his own costumes. Kobayashi, a 4th generation Japanese American, has lived in San Francisco his whole life, and grew up knowing that gayness is normal. He dated women until he came out in 1987, after he began skating; his parents are supportive, and come to watch his performances when he skates in San Francisco.