O’Brien Ready For Short Track Europeans Debut

Liam O’Brien (22) will make his ISU (International Skating Union) Championship debut for Ireland this weekend at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland (22-24 January).

The championships are being held in accordance with the Guidelines for ISU Events during the COVID-19 Pandemic with comprehensive testing, hygiene and social distancing protocols in place.

O’Brien will be among over 140 athletes from 24 countries participating in the annual event. He will first race on Friday (22 January) in the qualifying rounds for the 500, 1000 and 1500 metre distances with further rounds taking place over the following two days.

“It’s a very different atmosphere from previous competitions,” O’Brien said. “We can only leave the hotel for practice or competition and meals are served to our rooms.

“It’s been a long time since my last competition, so I’m excited to get out there and race. It’s also my first European Championships and first international competition representing Ireland so I hope I can put out a strong performance.”

The European Short Track Speed Skating Championships will be broadcast online with the qualifying rounds on 22 January on the ISU YouTube channel and subsequent rounds and finals on the Eurosport Player (paid subscription required). Geographical restrictions may apply.

The results of the championships can be followed on the event results page and on social media via the #EuroShortTrack and #ShortTrackSkating hashtags.

Cancellation of Irish Figure Skating Nationals 2021 (ISAI Communication No.9)

The Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) Board of Directors has determined that the Irish National Figure Skating Championships will not take place in 2021. Read the full decision in ISAI Communication No.9 below.

ISAI Communication No.9

Bright Spots For Irish Ice Skating Amidst 2020 Challenges

Despite the past twelve months presenting major obstacles for our association and members, 2020 has not been without its highlights for Irish ice skating.

January was a hectic month with the conclusion of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland’s seasonal Emerald Skate lessons, a test session and the annual Winter Challenge. Internationally, Conor Stakelum represented Ireland at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Graz, Austria, while Ryan and Sean McAnuff flew the flag at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. Ava Ryan became the first female short track speed skater from Ireland to participate at the ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Bormio, Italy.

In February, Tara Donoghue continued to make history for Irish ice skating. At the ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland, she placed 11th and 18th in the mass start and 3000 metres races respectively, the highest placements ever for an Irish skater at an ISU Championships. The same month saw the Irish National Figure Skating Championships held at Lee Valley, London where five titles were decided. While it turned out to be one of the final domestic events on the Irish sporting calendar to take place before an initial lockdown in March, the effects of the pandemic were already being felt with the shipment of the championships medals from China being delayed.

Tara Donoghue was the recipient of an ISU Development Programme Junior Scholarship in May becoming only the second Irish athlete ever to be awarded.

Odhrán Allen and Clara Peters were welcome additions to the ISAI Board of Directors in July. Later in the month, the ISAI announced its largest ever national team for figure skating and speed skating.

With a slew of events cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, it was October before Elizabeth Golding and Sophia Tkacheva became the first national team members to compete internationally when they took part in the Budapest Trophy in Budapest, Hungary.

In November, Golding was back in Budapest for the Santa Claus Cup where she finished fourth.

The ISAI’s Annual General Meeting went online in December with members virtually attending via Zoom.

2021 looks like it will be challenging both domestically and internationally for the foreseeable future with the ISAI’s Emerald Skate lessons for the 2020/2021 winter season and the ISU European Figure Skating Championships next month, for which Sam McAllister had been selected, already cancelled. The ISAI will continue to prioritise the health and safety of its members as we look forward to the day normal activities can be resumed.

 

O’Brien Poland Bound For 2021 Short Track Europeans

The Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) has selected Liam O’Brien to be the sole Irish representative at the 2021 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland (22-24 January).

This will be O’Brien’s International Skating Union (ISU) Championship debut for Ireland. He currently trains in Seongnam, South Korea under coach Lee Kwang Soo.

“I am very honoured to be given the opportunity to represent Ireland at the prestigious European Championships,” O’Brien said. “It will be my first Senior competition for Ireland and want to put out a strong performance and I am eager to race.”

Cancellation of the 2021 European Figure Skating Championships

On 10 December, the International Skating Union (ISU) announced the cancellation of the 2021 European Figure Skating Championships scheduled to be held in Zagreb, Croatia (25-31 January 2021) due to the ongoing situation with the Covid-19 global pandemic. It will be the first time since 1946 that the annual event will not take place.

The Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) had selected Sam McAllister to represent Ireland at the championships shortly before their cancellation was made public.

“After being selected for my first European Championships, it is incredibly sad news to hear that they have been cancelled,” McAllister said. “I believe it is the safest option for everyone, but it’s still hard as a skater not to represent your country at such a prestigious event.

“I want to thank the ISAI for selecting me and my team for helping me get to this point. We will keep grinding and pushing forward and there are many more years to come!”

Golding Fourth At Santa Claus Cup

Elizabeth Golding has finished fourth in the Junior Ladies event at the Santa Claus Cup in Budapest, Hungary with the best performances of her career so far over the course of two days of competition.

The 2019 Irish Junior champion was drawn in the first warm-up group for the short programme. Skating to “Masquerade Waltz” by Aram Khachaturian, she included a double Axel, triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and a double Lutz in her routine. She was also awarded Level 4 for two of her spins by the technical panel and she completed the segment in fifth place with a score of 39.69 points, a new personal best.

Golding was back on the ice the following day for the free skating, but this time she opened up the final warm-up group. She began with a double Axel and a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination. She went on to attempt a triple flip and executed two Level 4 spins. She posted a free skating score of 68.46 to give herself an overall total of 108.15 points and moved up to fourth place. These two marks also represent new personal bests.

“It has been a strange season, so I am glad to end 2020 on a positive note,” Golding said.

Full detailed results for the Santa Claus Cup can be found on the official results page.

2020/2021 Irish Figure Skating Championships Update (ISAI Communication No.8)

In light of the ongoing public health situation, the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) has published an update on the 2020/2021 Irish National Figure Skating Championships which can be viewed in ISAI Communication No.8 at the link below.

ISAI Communication No.8

No Emerald Skate Courses For 2020/2021 Season

Due to the current public health restrictions on indoor sport in Ireland, the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) will not be running our Emerald Skate learn to skate courses during the 2020/2021 winter season.

We look forward to hopefully being able to run Emerald Skate again in 2021/2022. In the meantime, we ask that everyone continues to follow public health guidelines to stay safe and healthy.

You can find out more about the Level 5 restrictions here.

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.

 

ISAI Communication No.7

The Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) wishes to inform its members of the decision by the Board to remove Basic Novice and Intermediate Novice from the Irish National Figure Skating Championships.

ISAI Communication No.7  can be read in full at the link below.

Useful Downloads

ISAI Communication No.7

Section 400 – Officials

Section 700 – Competitions

Section 800 – National Selection