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Despite Adversity Irish Ice Skating Forged Ahead In 2021

The pandemic continued to disrupt activities in 2021 both on and off the ice, but Irish ice skating has also displayed its resilience throughout the past 12 months.

In January, it was announced that unfortunately the Irish National Figure Skating Championships would not take place in 2021. At the end of the month, Liam O’Brien made his debut in an Irish racing suit at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland where he placed 25th overall. This was the highest ever placement for an Irish short track speed skater at an ISU Championships.

O’Brien raced again at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in March in Dordrecht, the Netherlands. His overall championship classification of 29th was the highest placement ever by an Irish skater in the history of the event and also secured two spots for Ireland in the men’s category at the 2022 Championships.

In May, O’Brien was also the recipient of an Olympic Federation of Ireland Beijing 2022 Individual Performance Support award.

Eight figure skaters and six speed skaters were named to the National Team in July.

After the cancellation of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in 2020, Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva were finally able to make their debuts in the series back in September in Kosice, Slovakia. Towards the end of the month, Conor Stakelum participated in the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, the final qualifying competition for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where he finished 29th. An EGM and an AGM were both held virtually during the month.

Judge return to the Junior Grand Prix circuit in October where he was joined by Elizabeth Golding to compete in the final stage of the series in Linz, Austria. In the middle of the month, Sam McAllister returned to the ice for the first time in over a year and finished 11th at the Budapest Trophy in Hungary. Sean McAnuff and Liam O’Brien got to try out Olympic ice at the test event in Beijing, China which was the first of four World Cup competition to decide quota places for the Games. The Irish short track speed skaters travelled to Nagoya, Japan the following week for the second World Cup.

November began with a team of five Irish figure skaters competing at the Tayside Trophy in Dundee, Scotland. Robyn Foster made her international debut for Ireland in the Junior Women’s category where she finished seventh with Tkacheva in tenth. Judge was second in the Junior Men’s event with Stakelum and McAllister tenth and eleventh respectively in the Senior Men’s division. O’Brien was back racing in the third World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary and was joined for the fourth in Dordrecht, the Netherlands by Ryan McAnuff. At the end of the month, it was announced that sadly the Emerald Skate learn to skate courses would be postponed for a second consecutive year.

McAllister, Stakelum and Judge rounded out the year at the Santa Claus Cup in Budapest, Hungary in December. The announcement of the selection of McAllister to represent Ireland at the 2022 ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia early next year was also made during the month.

While the pandemic is still an ongoing concern as we head into the New Year and the health and safety of our members remains our priority, the ISAI is hopeful that 2022 will see a resumption of our normal activities.