Margery Hilko Qualifies As First Ever Irish ISU Judge

Margery Hilko has this weekend become the first Irish person to qualify as an ISU Judge in Single and Pair Skating after she successfully passed the ISU Examination held on the occasion of the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Hilko has been an International Judge since 2013 and her new qualification now makes her eligible for inclusion in the draw for judging panels at ISU Championships.

“My journey to becoming an ISU Judge has been very hard, but I am incredibly happy to have passed and become Ireland’s first,” Hilko said. “Skating is such a passion for me, and I look forward to serving all the skaters at Championships and hope to see more Irish skaters there in future.”

“On behalf of the ISAI, I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Margery on this fantastic achievement,” ISAI President Seán Gillis. “Anyone involved in skating in Ireland will know of her dedication at all levels of the sport here. She is also well respected and liked by her international colleagues. I am delighted that she will be able to bring her enthusiasm for skating and professionalism to future ISU Championships.”

Tkacheva Finishes 32nd at Istanbul Junior Grand Prix

Sophia Tkacheva has made her 2023/2024 season debut at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Istanbul, Türkiye and placed 32nd in the Junior Women’s event.

The two-time Irish junior champion skated on the first day of competition in the short programme. Performing to “Bust Your Knee Caps (Johnny Don’t Leave Me)” by Pomplamoose, she attempted a double Axel and a triple Salchow to begin, but unfortunately fell on both elements. She next completed a Level 2 flying sit spin and a Level 1 layback spin. She singled a planned double Lutz jump which meant that she received no points for that elements. She closed out with a Level 1 step sequence and a Level 3 change foot combination spin. Her score for the short was 21.88 which put her in 33rd place overnight.

The following afternoon the County Wexford skater was back at the Silivrikapi Ice Rink for the free skating. She was unveiling her new free, a Romeo and Juliet choreographed by her coach and two-time European bronze medallist Kevin van der Perren. Initially, she valiantly attempted the double Axel and triple Salchow that had not come off in the short. Although they did not come off again this time, she rallied with a double Lutz-double toe loop jump that received full value from the judging panel. She also received positive grades of execution for her Level 2 layback spin and choreographic sequence. She earned a free score of 49.35 points which is a new ISU personal best and placed her 30th in the free. Her total score was 71.23 points.

You can catch Tkacheva’s performances below:

Short Programme

Free Skating

Tkacheva Glides Into New Season At Istanbul Junior Grand Prix

Sophia Tkacheva (County Wexford) is the first Irish figure skater to compete this season as she takes to the ice this week in the Junior Women’s event at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Istanbul, Türkiye (6-9 September).

Tkacheva will first skate in the short programme, which opens proceeding at the event on the morning of Thursday, 7 September. She will be back on the ice the following afternoon (Friday, 8 September) for the free skating.

“Over the summer, I got a new free programme, choreographed by my coach Kevin van der Perren,” Tkacheva said. “This will be my first time skating it at a competition, so my main goals for the JGP in Istanbul will be show this new programme and all the skills and elements that come with it to the best of my ability. I am aiming to be expressive and show emotion through my skating while also concentrating on the technical aspect of my skating.”

The ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series features skaters aged 13 to 19 (21 for male Ice Dance and Pair Skating partners) from all over the world. The 2023/2024 season marks the 26th edition of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating that was introduced in 1997. This season more than 300 skaters from over 50 different nations are expected to compete in the series.

This week’s Junior Grand Prix in Istanbul, Türkiye will be broadcast live on the ISU’s dedicated YouTube channel. Direct links for each of the segments Tkacheva will skate in are as follows:

Junior Women Short Programme (7 September)

Junior Women Free Skating (8 September)

The conversation about the series can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure hashtag on social media.

Seven Figure Skaters Named To 2023/2024 National Team

A total of seven athletes will represent Ireland internationally in figure skating competitions in the 2023/2024 season.

Dillon Judge claimed his first senior national title in June this year. He is now permanently based in Bergamo, Italy where he works with Barbara Luoni at Ice Lab as his main coach.

“This season I’m very excited about being on the National Team, with it being my first at Senior level this opens up more opportunities and experiences for me to grow as a skater,” Judge said. “In addition, this season will be my first full season with my new team of coaches, choreographer and I will be debuting two new programmes. Obviously, this adds new challenges, but I’m confident in myself and my team to make the biggest step forward in my skating career so far. Being surrounded by athletes with the same goals and aspirations makes it even easier to strive for success.”

Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus are first time National Team members. They won the first Senior Ice Dance event ever held at the Irish Figure Skating Championships back in June. They are coached by Carol Lane, Jon Lane, Juris Razgulajevs and Marc Andre Servant in Toronto, Canada.

“It’s an immense privilege for Shane and I to be able to represent Ireland on the international stage,” Soucisse said. “We cannot wait for the season to begin!”

“I’m super excited to be selected for the national team this season, and to have the opportunity to represent Ireland on the world stage,” Firus added.

Sophia Tkacheva picked up the second Junior title of her career at 2023 Irish Nationals. She includes eleven-time British champion Jenna McCorkell and two-time European bronze medallist Kevin van der Perren in her coaching team.

“I am very excited to be selected for the Irish National Team this season,” Tkacheva said. “This opportunity will give me the chance to exhibit my hard work over the summer and a chance to attend international competitions, such as the Junior Grand Prix in Istanbul.”

Ciera Turner-Frick finished second in the Junior Women’s event last season’s Irish championships. This is her first time to be chosen for the National Team. She is coached by Jane de Lange in Oxford, England.

“I am delighted to be selected for the National Team and excited to compete in my first ever Junior Grand Prix in October,” Turner-Frick said.

Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty took their second Junior Ice Dance national title in June. They are currently under the tutelage of Taavi Rand who is based in Tallinn, Estonia.

“I am very happy to be selected to the National Team again this season,” Laura Hegarty said. “Skaters and ISAI officials often travel as a group, take transport together from the airport to competition accommodation, travel to official practice etc. Although times can be tense around competitions, I always have a great time with fellow team members. The support from the National Team is amazing.”

“This is my second year as a Junior and second time to be selected to the National Team,” Kevin Hegarty said. “The experience we had last season was great. The team spirit is always so high. I enjoyed competing at international events with my fellow team members.

“I hope that Laura and I can improve each technical element during this season. At the same time, we hope to polish the flow of our whole performance as an ice dance programme.”

National Team Members (Figure Skating):

Senior Men – Dillon Judge (County Dublin)

Senior Ice Dance  – Carolane Soucisse/Shane Firus (County Wexford)

Junior Women – Sophia Tkacheva (County Wexford), Ciera Turner-Frick (County Cork)

Junior Ice Dance – Laura Hegarty/Kevin Hegarty (County Dublin)

You can learn more about our national team members here.

Stephen Judge Appointed ISAI Privacy Officer

The Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) is pleased to announce the appointment of Stephen Judge as ISAI Data Privacy Officer (DPO).

The role of the ISAI’s DPO involves overseeing how the ISAI handles and protects
individuals’ personal information. This position is responsible for ensuring compliance with data
protection laws, particularly the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and maintaining a strong
focus on safeguarding people’s privacy rights.

“I am happy to be coming on board to help the ISAI in this important role,” Judge said. “Having been impressed with the support the volunteers in this organisation provide to skaters, I thought it would be good to get involved and hopefully reduce some of the pressures placed on them. I am looking forward to meeting everyone.”

“The ISAI is thrilled that Stephen has agreed to become the ISAI’s DPO,” ISAI President Seán Gillis said. “Given his professional background and his involvement with volunteering in ice skating, I cannot think of  anyone more suited to the position.”

Smooth Sailing: Conor Stakelum Embarks on New Career on the High Seas

Following his retirement from international competition in 2022, Irish figure skater Conor Stakelum did not hang up his skates and instead began working in skating shows aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships. The four-time European competitor talked to us about what life is like as a performer entertaining audiences while sailing from port to port.

What inspired you to become a skater on a cruise ship?
I knew a few skaters who had done it before and the shows looked really good from the clips I had seen. I had also always enjoyed the travelling side of competing and there are a lot of places I want to see so I think it’s a really cool way to travel a lot and also still skate.

What is your favourite part of performing on a cruise ship?
My favourite part is seeing how much the audience is enjoying and appreciating the performances. It is really nice when you get a standing ovation from the audience which actually happens quite a bit because the shows are really good and they are designed really well for the audience. It’s a much more interactive experience than performing while competing which I really enjoy. I also get to enjoy performing much more when I am doing the shows than I was competing because I don’t feel nervous. It’s a much more enjoyable feeling with obviously a different focus.

Can you tell us about a particularly memorable performance or moment on the cruise ship that stands out?
One performance that stands out to me would be the opening night on Oasis of the Seas which is the ship I am on right now because all of our cast got on together and we did rehearsals together on the ship. When we opened the show, it was really nice because we’d all been through the rehearsal process and learning the show and learning our solos and rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing and then we finally got to perform for an audience.

How do you stay in shape and maintain your skills while performing on the ship?
We get to practice on the rink on the ship. We always have warm-ups before the shows for half an hour in different groups of three skaters at a time. We practice all our skills before every show and then on other days there is also ice available where we can practice or train if we want to do so. We can also use the gym. It’s a really nice gym and I go there a lot. That’s how I stay in shape and maintain my skills while I am on the ship which is obviously very important because that’s my job.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in figure skating or performing on a cruise ship?
The advice I would give is to work on your skating because the better a skater you are the more chance you have of being hired and also the more enjoyable and easier performing will be for you. For example, you can do a double Axel, but can you do a double Axel in spotlights when you are not really that warm with a heavy costume on and other people really close to you? The more comfortable you are with your skills as a skater, the better you are going to do in any kind of professional setting. That would be my best advice – just work on your skating and be open to new ideas, different styles of music and dance and go for it and apply for things!

What is your favourite destination that you have visited while performing on a cruise ship, and why?
My favourite destination is probably San Juan in Puerto Rico. I found it really beautiful. The old town was absolutely stunning. I hadn’t ever thought of going to San Juan or anywhere like that so I was pleasantly surprised.

How do you collaborate with other performers to create a cohesive show?
During the rehearsal process the whole cast got to know each other quite well. I’ve been very lucky as I have had some really great cast members and we get on really well. You are just always aware of your spacing with other performers, what you are supposed to be doing, on what count of the music everything is supposed to be on because if everyone’s on time and you are all in the right space, the show is going to look good. Just being aware of everybody and getting along well with your cast so that it is enjoyable to perform with other skaters, to create something. When skating is in a competitive environment, it is such an individual sport so it’s really nice to be a team with your cast.

Can you share any behind the scenes insights or secrets about what goes into putting on a successful performance on a cruise ship?
I don’t know if I have any secrets into what goes into putting on a successful performance on a cruise ship, but I would say the most interesting thing is probably when the ship rocks that can be a challenge. You can feel it, but it feels almost as if you are skating up and downhill. You just have to be conscious, especially the pairs teams with their lifts and pairs tricks have got to be careful. All the solo skaters have got to be careful on their jumps obviously because you might land a bit earlier than you were expecting. So, you’ve just got to be prepared for it, but you do get used to it. That would be the biggest challenge and maybe it counts as behind the scenes because you still have to make the show look like the ship isn’t rocking which is definitely a challenge.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time when you are not performing on the ship?
In my free time on and off the ship, I like to explore the ports if I have the chance which mostly I can and see the kind of places where we are. I love to swim in the sea because it is quite warm in the Caribbean. I also like to go to the gym on the ship, even just relaxing on some of the areas of the ship is nice. I pretty much just like to chill out when I am not performing.

Where can people see you perform over the coming months?
For the next few months, I will be aboard Oasis of the Seas between New York, Florida, and the Caribbean.

Irish Figure Skating Championships Wraps Up Skating Season

This weekend (17-18 June) brought the top Irish figure skating talent to the Dundee Ice Arena in Dundee, Scotland for the 2023 edition of the Irish National Figure Skating Championships.

On the opening day competition, champions were crowned in the Senior and Junior ice dance categories.

Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus (Co. Wexford) made history by becoming the first Senior team to compete at the event. They first performed their rhythm dance to ‘Perdiendo el Control’
by De La Ghetto x Marco Acevedo and ‘Quererte Bonito’ by Elena Rose & Sebastián Yatra. They executed a Level 4 twizzle sequence, Level 4 partial steps and Level 4 rotational lift as well as garnering Level 3 for their midline step sequence scoring 63.84 points.

Soucisse and Firus came back for their free dance which they skated to ‘Hier Encore’ and ‘La Bohème’ by Charles Aznavour. They included Level 4 straight line and Level 4 rotational lifts and a Level 4 dance spin in their performance. Both skaters also earned Level 3 for their diagonal step and one foot turns sequences. They were awarded a score of 96.66 points by the judging panel to give them a combined score of 160.50 points and their first national title.

“Irish Nationals was such a unique and special experience for Shane and I,” Soucisse said. “The warm welcome and support we received from the athletes and members of the federation was absolutely fantastic. Joining the ISAI was the best decision we have made, not only for our skating career but also because we feel like we gained a new family! I would like to thank all members of the ISAI for the unforgettable memories we have made here and for all the ones to come.”

“Irish Nationals was an absolutely amazing experience and we were blown away with how welcoming and warm the ISAI were,” Firus said. “All of the members of the ISAI welcomed us with open arms and made Irish Nationals an experience that we will never forget. For me it was a particularly special moment as growing up my Nana from Gorey, County Wexford always talked about Ireland and how she missed the people. After this past weekend it’s easy to understand why. When we stood at the top of the podium being the first Irish Senior Ice Dance Champions, I was filled with pride thinking of how lucky we are to represent such an incredible country. What made this historic moment even more special were the individuals who shared this moment with us. It was as emotional for them as it was for us.”

2022 champions Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty (Co. Dublin) were competing again this year in the Junior ice dance event. They opened with their rhythm dance to ‘Sombrero Blanco’ from the Mask of Zorro soundtrack by Mala Rumba and ‘Assassin’s Tango’ from the Mr. and Mrs. Smith soundtrack by John Powell. Their routine consisted of five elements with the highest scoring ones the Level 1 diagonal step sequence (5.92) and a Level 2 rotational lift (3.47). They scored 26.55 points for the segment.

Hegarty and Hegarty followed with the free dance to ‘Harem’ by Sarah Brightman. They began with Level 2 and Level 1 synchronised twizzles respectively for Laura and Kevin with a Level 2 dance spin in quick succession. They achieved Level 3 for their rotational lift and Level 1 for their diagonal steps. Their free score of 46.29 points was a big new personal best and also gave them a career best total of 72.84 points for their second Junior title.

The ice and all the conditions for the competition were very good,” Laura Hegarty said. “We started the day very early in the morning, but we were able to skate comfortably. Nationals gives us the chance to see other skaters and it’s nice to cheer each other on.”

“The entire experience was great and it was nice to see our fellow skaters again,” Kevin Hegarty said. “The organisers of the competition were very welcoming, even though it was only our second time visiting. The support from the people watching was also great.”

Dillon Judge (Co. Dublin) moved up to the Senior men’s event this year and commenced his competition on the opening day with his short programme to ‘Smile’ by Nat King Cole. He started off with a cleanly landed triple Salchow and then attempted a triple toe loop combination which resulted in a fall as did an attempt at a double Axel. He posted Level 3 for each of his three spins and Level 2 for his step sequence. He scored 36.04 points for his short.

In the free skating, Judge landed a triple Salchow and back that up with a double Axel. He garnered Level 3 for his flying sit spin and his step sequence in his Jamie Callum medley programme. He racked up a free score of 71.83 points to give him a total of 107.87 points and a first Senior Men’s national title.

“Irish Nationals was a good way to end off this season, with winning my first Senior Irish National title, getting to skate my new short programme, the team building and meeting the new Irish skaters,” Judge said.

Sophia Tkacheva (C0. Wexford) took the lead in the Junior women’s short programme with her routine to ‘Bust Your Knee Caps (Johnny Don’t Leave Me)’ by Pomplamoose . The 2020 champion went for a double Axel, but fell on the jump. She rallied with a double Lutz-double toe loop combination and a solo double loop. Both her layback spin and change foot combination spin garnered Level 4. She stood in first place overnight with a score of 34.48 points.

Ciera Turner-Frick (Co. Cork) in her first appearance at an Irish Championships attempted a double Axel to start her performance, but she also fell. She did recover to land a solo double loop and double flip-double toe loop combination. She closed out her short with a Level 4 change foot combination spin. Her score of 27.01 points put her in second place going into the free skating.

Tkacheva launched into her free skating to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi with a double flip-single Axel sequence. She next attempted a double Axel, but fell on the element. She recovered to reel off two solo double loops and closed out her routine with a Level 4 layback spin. She received a free score of 57.37 points which put her in first place overall with a total of 91.85 points. This is her second Junior National title.

“My experience at Nationals this year was amazing,” Tkacheva said. “I got to skate my last competition of the season and meet all the new skaters that competed here. My expectations for my result were set relatively low considering I’m still recovering and coming back into shape from an injury that had put a stop to my training and competing for two months but regardless of the stress fracture I still went onto the ice and skated my best. It was a great way to end this competitive season and I’m proud of how I was able to focus on my skating and performance.

“This was my last time skating this free programme and I really wanted to pour everything I had into that last skate and I think I did just that. I really loved this programme and I’m glad that the last time that I skated it turned out the way it did. This is the second time that I’ve won Junior Nationals and I was overjoyed to receive this title. As I’ve already said I didn’t expect to come out with the result that I did and winning nationals is a great way for me to end this season and a really proud accomplishment.”

Turner-Frick began her free skating with a double loop and landed a single axel immediately afterwards. She next completed two combination jumps – double flip-double toe loop and double Lutz-double toe loop. The technical panel graded her change foot combination spin Level 4. A mistake on a double Lutz towards the final stage of her programme saw her fall. She scored 52.95 points in the free which gave her an overall score of 79.96 points and second place.

“I really enjoyed meeting all the other Irish skaters and competing at my first Nationals,” Turner-Frick said.

Saoirse O’Sullivan (Co. Tipperary) made her Irish Nationals debut in the Advanced Novice girls category. She laid down a single Axel to begin her short programme and followed with double flip-double toe loop combination. She earned Level 3 for her sit spin and change foot combination spin. She scored 22.97 points.

O’Sullivan embarked on her free skating with a double flip and then a double flip-double toe loop combination. She then succeeded in landing a double loop-single Axel-single Axel sequence and executed a Level 3 flying sit spin. She fell on a double loop later on in her routine, but was able to come back with a Level 3 change foot combination spin to finish. Her free score was 42.49 which gave her a combined total of 65.46 points for first place.

“I can’t express how special this experience has been for me – becoming Advanced Novice Irish Champion 2023 has been a dream come true and I will always remember this amazing feeling,” O’Sullivan said.

2023 Irish National Figure Skating Championships Results

Archived Live Stream

Day 1 Morning

Day 1 Afternoon

Day 2 Afternoon


Top Irish Figure Skaters Set To Compete At National Championships

For the second year in a row, the Irish National Figure Skating Championships will take place at the Dundee Ice Arena in Dundee, Scotland. The event will be held over the course of two days (17-18 June) with eight skaters in five separate categories taking to the ice.After winning the Junior Men’s title twice, Dillon Judge (Co. Down) moves up to contest the Senior Men’s event for the first time. Earlier this year, he began working with his new coach Barbara Luoni at Ice Lab in Bergamo, Italy, an ISU Centre of Excellence.Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus (Co. Wexford) will be making their Irish Championship debut this weekend. This marks the first occasion a Senior Ice Dance event has been included in the championship programme. The team train in Toronto, Canada with Carol Lane, Jon Lane, Juris Razgulajevs and Marc Andre Servant.Sophia Tkacheva (Co. Wexford) claimed the Junior Women’s silver medal at last season’s championships. She previously won the title back in 2020. Her coaches are two-time European medallist Kevin van der Perren and eleven-time British champion Jenna McCorkell.Ciera Turner-Frick (Co. Cork) is making her first appearance at the Irish Championships where she is entered in the Junior Women’s event. She is coached by Jane de Lange in Oxford, England.Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty (Co. Dublin) made history this season by becoming the first ice dance team to represent Ireland in an ISU competition when they participated at the Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel, France last August. Their coaching team is comprised of Lea Rand and Taavi Rand.Saoirse O’Sullivan (Co. Tipperary) is a first-time competitor at Irish Nationals and she is entered in the Advanced Novice Girls category. She trains with three-time Irish champion Sam McAllister and Margaret O’Neill in Nottingham, England.Regular updates from the Irish National Figure Skating Championships will be posted on the Ice Skating Association of Ireland’s social media accounts.Results Page

Conor Stakelum Appointed ISAI Anti-Doping Officer

The Ice Skating Association is pleased to announce that Conor Stakelum has been appointed as ISAI Anti-Doping Officer.

Stakelum has represented Ireland in multiple international competitions, including four European Figure Skating Championships. He graduated from University College Dublin with a degree in microbiology and has previously worked in medical science.

“I am confident that Conor will make a valuable contribution to the ISAI’s efforts to promote clean sport and protect the health and well-being of our athletes,” ISAI President Seán Gillis said.

McAllister Takes His Final Bow

Irish figure skater Sam McAllister (24) has announced his retirement from competition, bringing an end to a successful career on the ice.

In 2018, McAllister became only the second athlete from Ireland to compete at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships. He became the third Irish skater to participate in the European Figure Skating Championships in January 2023 where he finished 28th. This would ultimately be his final competition. He also holds three national senior titles.

In his retirement statement, McAllister expressed his gratitude for the support he received throughout his skating career. He thanked his coach and all those who have encouraged him throughout his years as a competitive skater.

“I have had the honour of being able to share this great journey with my mother as my coach. I look forward to my journey of now coaching alongside her.

“I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone that’s been a part of my skating journey, I can’t even begin to list everyone, but just know you have all had a huge impact on not just me as a skater but me as a person and I am so grateful to you all.

“I do want to give a special thanks to the Irish Federation for the support they have shown me over these years.”

“Although Sam’s retirement from competition marks the end of one chapter of his life, I look forward to seeing him stay involved in the further development of Irish figure skating,” ISAI President Seán Gillis said. “I would like to thank him for the many memorable moments he brought to the world of Irish figure skating.”