Golding and Tkacheva Conclude Competition At Budapest Trophy

Elizabeth Golding and Sophia Tkacheva finished 11th and 12th respectively earlier today at the Budapest Trophy, their opening event of this season, in Budapest, Hungary.

In the short programme, Golding attempted a double Axel, a triple Salchow combination and a double Lutz. All three of her spins were graded Level 3 and she scored 28.55 for the segment to put herself in 11th place overnight after the first day of competition.

The following day Golding began her free skating with double Axel and triple Salchow attempts and went on to land a second double Axel as well as execute a Level 4 Flying Camel Spin towards the end of her programme. She received a free skating score of 56.66 points to give her a combined total of 85.21.

“The competition went okay,” Golding said. “I have many things to work on, but it was great to be back competing after such a long break.”

Tkacheva drew first to skate her short in which she attempted a double Axel, a double flip-double loop combination and a double Lutz. Her Change Foot Combination Spin and Step Sequence were both graded Level 2 by the technical panel and she was awarded a score of 27.30 points putting her in 12th place midway through the event.

In the free, she commenced with a double flip-double loop combination and a double Lutz before attempting a double Axel. She closed her routine with a Level 4 Change Foot Combination Spin and earned a free score of 48.91 points which gave her a final total of 76.21.

“I had a great experience participating here in Budapest,” Tkacheva said. “It has always been my dream to compete at an ISU international competition. I really hope things will go back to normal or improve with the coronavirus soon and I will have regular access to ice to work on my programmes and improve the consistency of my jumps.”


Golding And Tkacheva All Set For Season Debut

This weekend sees figure skaters Elizabeth Golding and Sophia Tkacheva make their season debut at the Budapest Trophy (14-17 October) at the Vasas Jégcentrum ice rink in the Hungarian capital when they compete in the Junior Ladies event.

Golding is the 2019 Irish Junior champion and she claimed silver at the 2020 Irish Championships in February this year. Tkacheva took her first Junior national title at those championships and this will be the first time that both skaters participate in a competition since then.

They will first take to the ice in the short programme on Friday afternoon, 16 October and will be back on Saturday afternoon, 17 October for the free skating. The event will be live streamed on the Hungarian Skating Federation’s YouTube channel with detailed results on the competition website.

Despite Junior Grand Prix Being Put On Ice, Irish Figure Skaters Look Ahead

This week was due to see the start of the 2020/2021 ISU (International Skating Union) Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating, but the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic has put paid to these competitions being held this season. Three Irish national team members selected to represent Ireland in the series are among the hundreds of figure skaters from all over the world affected by the cancellation.

Originally inaugurated in 1997, Ireland made its series debut in 2008 when Clara Peters competed at the Czech Skate Junior Grand Prix in Ostrava, Czech Republic. In fact, this marked the first appearance of an Irish ice skater at any international competition. Since then, Irish skaters who have participated at Junior Grand Prix events have gone on to compete at Junior World, European and World Figure Skating Championships.

This season three skaters – Elizabeth Golding, Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva – had been chosen by the Ice Skating Association of Ireland board of directors to take part in the series.

Judge and Tkacheva would have been making their Junior Grand Prix debut and both skaters were looking forward to flying the flag for Ireland at their respective events.

“When I got the email informing me that I was selected to represent Ireland at a Junior Grand Prix I was really excited,” Judge said.  “I knew my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Dublin would know and they would be expecting me to do the best for Ireland. I now had to ensure that the training I was doing resulted in the best performance.”

“I was delighted and honoured to be chosen to represent Ireland at such a big international event,” Tkacheva said.

On the other hand, this was the third season in which Golding was assigned a Junior Grand Prix event and she was looking forward to demonstrating her growth as a skater.

“It was a great privilege to be selected once again to represent Ireland on the Junior Grand Prix series, as I was excited to show all the new elements and new programs I have worked on in Russia over the past few months,” Golding said.

However, on 20 July the ISU announced that, due to COVID-19, this year’s series would be cancelled. After scrambling to arrange ice time because of the restrictions on the opening of training facilities and travel to various jurisdictions, the news came as somewhat of a let down following the excitement of being selected.

“I was disappointed, of course,” Tkacheva said. “We put so much effort in arranging my skating practice this summer. My mum was constantly in contact with embassies and figure skating camp organisers as things were not clear and we were not sure if we could make it.”

“Due to Covid-19 I travelled to Flims, Switzerland to train as the rinks in the U.K. were shut and, although we had a date for them re-opening, it was too close to the first Junior Grand Prix taking place for me to get enough training,” Judge said. “I was in Switzerland when I found out the Junior Grand Prix had been cancelled. I was absolutely gutted and very disappointed.”

“I felt disappointed, but I didn’t allow it to get to me as I know I have many new competitions ahead of me in the upcoming season where I will have a chance to perform and make Ireland proud,” Golding said putting a positive spin on things. “On the other hand, I felt a bit relieved. I was worried that I wouldn’t perform to my best ability due to the coronavirus situation as I only started training again on the ice in June.”

Over the summer months, all of the skaters have been toiling away on and off the ice despite the uncertainties they have faced.

“I was lucky to attend two figure skating camps in the Czech republic in July, where I had worked on my skating skills, jumps and spins,” Tkacheva said. “There were classic choreography and gymnastics classes. In addition, I spent two weeks in Minsk, Belarus in the Olympic figure skating school where I focused more on my programmes.”

“Whilst in Switzerland, I attended a training camp where I worked on skating skills and jumps,” Judge said. “I also used the patch ice as much as possible to hone my routines and practice. In the months prior to travelling to Switzerland with the rinks closed, I carried a lot training by myself and participated in a number of online classes including those put on by the ISU. I also had lessons with my coach online twice a week.”

“I have been working hard on my triple jumps, particularly triple flip and Lutz, as these are my favourites as well as the highest scoring jumps,” Golding said. “I am especially proud that I am able to practice all my triple jumps to my full potential as I have been working with a sports psychologist who has helped me get over my fear of doing certain jumps. Off the ice I have been working on my power and rotation position in my jumps, as well as training my endurance and stamina through circuit training, plyometric training and jogging every evening.”

With the Junior Grand Prix off the table for this season this least, all three skaters are looking ahead with other goals in mind.

“I want to work more on my triple jumps now, to improve my technique, and spend more time on stretching as this is the key for nice spins,” Tkacheva said. “I hope COVID restrictions will be eased soon, and I will be able to train as usual, and hopefully travel to Slovakia for intense practice in October.”

“My parents and I are also monitoring the COVID-19 situation to see if there are any competitions in safe countries going to take place,” Judge said. “I am also looking for other opportunities to attend training camps. Apart from that my coach and I will carry on with our normal training schedule.”

“My plans for the rest of the season are simple- train hard every day to finally get my triple jumps, and practice my new free programme and my old short programme, which now contains a triple lutz in it,” Golding said.


Eight Figure Skaters Named To 2020/2021 ISAI National Team

The Board of Directors of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) have selected eight figure skaters to the ISAI National Team for the 2020/2021 season.

The following ISAI members have been chosen to represent Ireland on the international stage at International Skating Union (ISU) events:

Senior Men – Sam McAllister

Senior Men – Conor Stakelum

Junior Ladies – Adare Condon

Junior Ladies – Dracy Condon

Junior Ladies – Robyn Foster

Junior Ladies – Elizabeth Golding

Junior Ladies – Sophia Tkacheva

Junior Men – Dillon Judge

Sam McAllister retained his Senior National title in February this year. From Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, he is coached by Margaret O’Neill in Nottingham and Sheffield, England. This will be his fifth season as a National Team member.

Conor Stakelum is a five-time Senior National champion. A native of Dublin, he trains in Dundee, Scotland with Simon and Debi Briggs. He finished 34th at this year’s European Figure Skating Championships in Graz, Austria.

Adare Condon placed fourth in the Junior Ladies event at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships. She trains under Megan Doyle and Tracy Doyle in Elmsford, New York. This is her first season as a member of the Irish National team.

Dracy Condon is the Junior Ladies bronze medallist at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships. She practices alongside her sister in New York City and is also a debut member of the Irish National team.

Robyn Foster competed at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships in February for the first time, but had to withdraw due to injury after the short programme. She trains in Coventry, England under Marina Serova and this will be her first season skating for Ireland.

Elizabeth Golding finished second in the Junior Ladies event at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships. She divides her training time between Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Moscow, Russia. In 2019, she represented Ireland at ISU Junior Grand Prix events in Latvia and Italy.

Sophia Tkacheva is the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships Junior Ladies champion. From Gorey, County Wexford, she trains on ice in Northern Ireland and Minsk, Belarus. This is her second season on the ISAI National Team.

Dillon Judge won his first Junior Men’s national title at the Irish Figure Skating Championships in February. Born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, he trains in Sheffield, England.

You can learn more about our national team members here.

New Irish Championships Medals Finally Deliver Their Reward

While this season’s Irish Figure Skating Championships were successfully held at the end of February only a few short weeks before the current restrictions in place on social distancing and movement in Ireland came into effect, even then the impact of the current global health crisis was being felt by the sport here.

New medals for Irish championships in all ice skating disciplines had been designed, commissioned and manufactured earlier this season. There was just one issue. Shipment of the medals from China had been delayed due to the grave situation surrounding the pandemic there at that time. Nevertheless, the show went on with the understanding that the medallists in each of the five categories would receive their physical accolades at a later date.

Over two months have passed since the championships and most of the skaters have now received their medals, but they have also seen their training curtailed to a significant degree with rinks all over the world closed temporarily.

Sam McAllister captured his second senior national title in a row back in February and is spending this period of isolation at home in Nottingham, United Kingdom with his mother and coach Margaret O’Neill and cat Sasha. He is keeping himself well-occupied.

“I keep in contact with my beautiful girlfriend every day through Facetime and messaging.

“I have set myself a schedule for my off-ice and I am making sure to stay fit and healthy to be ready for my return to the ice. I have also learnt how to do a back flip in this time so maybe we can try that on the ice when we return.

“Once this is all over, I will be at the rink and working super hard to make up for lost time in training.”

The most competitive category at this year’s championships was the Junior Ladies event. Sophia Tkacheva claimed the gold medal in the end and she, along with sister Justina who won the Basic Novice title, are in lock down at home in Gorey, County Wexford like everyone else in Ireland. They are combining their school studies with off-ice training involving running, jumping, roller skating and online stretching and conditioning classes with a gymnastics coach.

“We miss our teachers and coaches, doing our programs, learning new spins and jumps – all these thing we can’t do today.

“When this strange time is over, we will try to squeeze all of our favourite things into one first week, and the first thing we will do is replace our roller skates for ice skates and go ice skating straight away.”

Junior silver medallist Elizabeth Golding is back home in Dubai, United Arab Emirates with her parents and dog Mochi. Aside from her school work, she is also busy working off-ice and keeping in shape as best she can by running, jumping and stretching. In her spare time, she is doing a little bit of painting!

Dracy Condon clinched Junior Ladies bronze just ahead of her sister Adare and they are both sheltering safely at home with their family and dog Chester in New York State, United States of America. Like other skaters, they are combining their school work with off-ice training and coaching sessions via Zoom and FaceTime.

“When the time comes, we cannot wait to get back on the ice, hearing the music from our programmes over the rink speakers, and seeing all our friends – and coaches too.”

Dillon Judge picked up his first junior title this season and is with his family and dog Frieda at their home in Doncaster, United Kingdom. He is participating in online classes for strength, flexibility, power and fitness and  practicing his rotations using a trampoline and his jump on a decking area is now where he practices his jumps. He is  also spending thirty minutes every few days walking around in his boots to make sure they keep their shape and his feet still feel comfortable wearing them.

“I am also spending a lot of time with my dog trying to train her to do some new tricks.  My success is limited but now I have had a small insight to my coaches’ frustration when they are showing me new things.”

When normality returns he wants his first outing to be to the ice rink in Sheffield where he trains and actually meeting up with his coach.

“I want to assess the impact on my skating as I have never spent more than five days away from the rink in the last five years.”

Laura Hegarty was this season’s Intermediate Novice champion and was delighted to finally receive her medal.

“It feels like I have been awarded twice!”

She is spending these past few weeks at home with her family and is exercising and concentrating on her fitness and flexibility. She is also trying to work on jumps and the new techniques that she learned this year.

“I cannot predict when the lock down will be over, but I hope to take part in summer camps if they are occurring.”

The Ice Skating Association of Ireland recognises and appreciates the efforts of all those working so hard on the front lines to keep us all safe. We also extend our sincerest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones. We look forward to seeing everyone back out on the ice in better times.

Five Titles Decided At Irish Figure Skating Championships

The 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships concluded earlier today at the Lee Valley Ice Centre in London with titles up for grabs in five different categories over the course of the two days of competition.

Sam McAllister retained the Senior Men’s title. The Ballymoney, County Antrim skater had a shaky start in the short programme where he fell on a double Lutz-triple toe loop combination and doubled a planned triple flip, but he rallied back with a double Axel and two Level 4 spins to score 41.27 points. In contrast to the short, McAllister opened his free skating with a clean triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and went on to land a triple flip and a second triple Lutz. He earned a free score of 101.41 to give him a total of 142.68 for the gold medal.

Five-time national champion Conor Stakelum was in the lead following the short, but subsequently withdrew before the free due to illness.

There were a record number entries in the Junior Ladies category this year and Sophia Tkacheva emerged as the winner. The Gorey, County Wexford native attempted a double Axel, a double flip-double toe loop combination and a double loop in the short to earn 28.02 which put her in a close third overnight. In the free, Tkacheva opened with two jump combinations and also attempted a triple Salchow during her routine in which she amassed a score of 55.85. She finished first in the free and overall with a total of 83.87 points.

Defending champion Elizabeth Golding was leading after the short and was narrowly beaten for the title. She came second in the free to take the silver medal with a total of 83.56. In her Irish Championships debut, Dracy Condon picked up bronze as she scored 80.19 points overall.

After winning the Advanced Novice title at last year’s Irish Championships, Dillon Judge took his first Junior Men’s title with a total of 80.68 points.

On the first day of competition, Laura Hegarty won the Intermediate Novice Ladies title with a total score of 21.96.

The day before her sister became Junior Ladies champions Justina Tkacheva was the winner of the Basic Novice Ladies event with an overall score of 18.38.

Full detailed results for the 2019 Irish Figure Skating Championships are available here.

Tkacheva 28th At Dragon Trophy

Sophia Tkacheva has concluded competing at the Dragon Trophy in Ljubljana, Slovenia (1-2 February) with a 28th place finish in the Advanced Novice category.

On the first day of competition, Tkacheva performed her short programme. She attempted a single Axel, a double Lutz-double toe loop combination and a double loop. Both of her spins were graded Level 3. She received a score of 22.94 which left her in 26th place.

The following day saw the Gorey, County Wexford native appear in the free skating. She tried six jumping passes, including a triple Salchow attempt. A flying sit spin was awarded a Level 3 by the technical panel. She scored 34.52 which gave her an overall total of 57.46.

Full detailed results for the Dragon Trophy can be found here.

Tkacheva Takes On Dragon Trophy

This weekend sees Sophia Tkacheva participate in the Dragon Trophy in Ljubljana, Slovenia (1-2 February).

The figure skater from Gorey, County Wexford will compete in the Advanced Novice category and she will perform her short programme on Saturday, 1 February with the free skating taking place on Sunday, 2 February at the Hala Tivoli ice rink.

You can follow Tkacheva’s progress via the event live stream or the results page.

Conor Stakelum 34th At Europeans

Conor Stakelum (26) competed this afternoon in the short programme men’s event at the ISU (International Skating Union) European Figure Skating Championships in Graz, Austria where he placed 34th.

Stakelum skated 16th out of the 35 competitors and began his programme to “Nightshade” by The Lumineers with an attempted triple loop and followed it with a triple toe loop-triple toe loop jump combination which unfortunately resulted in a fall. However, he steadied himself as the routine progressed and his final four elements all received a positive grade of execution from the judging panel. He was awarded a score of 48.28.

As only the top 24 skaters advance to tomorrow’s free skating, the five-time senior champion has concluded his third successive participation at the European Championships today.

“I’m disappointed, but these things happen,” Stakelum said. “I’m going to go home and work on putting more difficult elements into my programmes.”


Conor Stakelum Skates For Ireland At European Figure Skating Championships

Conor Stakelum (26) competes at the ISU (International Skating Union) European Figure Skating Championships this week in Graz, Austria (22-26 January). This is the five-time Irish champion’s third consecutive participation at the event following his debut two years ago in Moscow, Russia where he became the first Irish male figure skater to compete in the history of the championships since they began in 1891.

Stakelum will first take part in the short programme which will be held on the morning of Wednesday, 22 January from 11:30am local time (10:30am Irish time). The day prior to the competition a draw will be held to determine his starting order of the 35 men entered. He will perform seven required elements and if his scores place him in the top 24 skaters he will advance to the free skating on Thursday, 23 January.

“I am proud to be representing Ireland at Europeans again,” Stakelum said. “I am looking forward to building on my previous two championship experiences this week in Graz.”

You will be able to follow Stakelum’s progress in Graz live on the ISU YouTube channel, the competition event page and on social media using the #EuroFigure and #FigureSkating hashtags.

The European Figure Skating Championships are being held in Graz for the first time ever, but Austria has hosted on 11 previous occasions. Stakelum will be one of 165 skaters from 33 countries who will participate in the event. Skaters have had to obtain a minimum total technical score in the short programme and free skating in an ISU competition in order to compete at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships.