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.

2020 Winter Challenge Announcement Update

Due to an omission in the initial announcement for the 2020 Winter Challenge, an updated announcement with the addition of an interpretative category for championship level is now online here.

This additional event will not impact any of the entrants so far, but will allow skaters who hold Basic Novice and up to enter the competition.

Emerald Skate Test Session January 2020

All test applicants for the Emerald Skate Test Session on the morning of 18 January 2020 at South Dublin On Ice should have received an email showing their test group and time. There will be three test starting times (08:10/08:45/09:10). Each test group will also be posted in the ice rink on the morning of the test session.

If you have not received an email regarding the test session, please check your email junk/spam folder in the first instance. If you still have not received an email, please contact info@isai.ie for further assistance.

2019 Review: Another Exciting Year For Irish Ice Skating

The year kicked off with Ryan and Sean McAnuff becoming the first skaters from Ireland to participate in the same International Skating Union (ISU) Championships in January when they competed at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht, Netherlands. They retained two spots for Ireland for 2020.

At the end of January, Conor Stakelum took part in the European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus. The Dubliner posted an ISU personal best in the short programme to place 33rd.

In February, Tara Donoghue became the first Irish skater to race at the World Junior Speed Skating Championships which were held in Balsega di Pine, Italy. Her 23rd place in the 3000 metres was the highest finish yet by an Irish competitor at an ISU Championships.

The month also saw an introductory seminar for short track speed skating officials held in Dublin.

March saw Tara Donoghue  conclude her season by setting national records over the 1000 and 1500 metres at the Viking Race in Heerenveen, Netherlands. Sean McAnuff also closed out his season with a 38th place at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

In July, a figure skating technical specialist seminar took place in Dublin.

In her second season competing on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit, Elizabeth Golding set Irish junior records for free skating and total scores in October at her second assignment in Egna, Italy.

Tara Donoghue competed in the ISU Junior World Cup Speed Skating event in Enschede, Netherlands and earned a spot for Ireland at the 2020 Youth Olympics becoming the first Irish skater to accomplish this feat.

At the Canadian International Invitational in Montreal, Canada in December, Ava Ryan booked her place at the 2020 World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships. She will be the first female short track speed skater from Ireland to participate at an ISU Championships.