Junior Grand Prix Beckons For Irish Trio

After the cancellation of last season’s ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this week marks its welcome return with the first event to be held in Courchevel, France. Three Irish skaters will compete in the series this season at subsequent stages in Kosice, Slovakia (1-4 September) and Linz, Austria (6-9 October).

Dillon Judge will be the sole representative for Ireland in the men’s category this season. The 2020 Junior National champion will finally be making his Junior Grand Prix debut after missing out last season. It was a challenging year for Judge who had to adjust to the ever changing restrictions in the United Kingdom where he is based.

“While the ice rinks were closed, I worked to keep my fitness up using a cross trainer and skipping,” he said. “I carried out a lot of off ice training working on jump rotation. This was done with my coach online and also by myself at home.

“In addition, I travelled with my coach to train in Hungary so that I could get back on the ice. When the rinks in UK opened, I returned and worked hard on improving my strength and fitness and practicing my routines.”

At his two assignments in Slovakia and Austria, Judge is ready to show all that he has worked on since he last competed.

“I want to give the best competitive performance possible and better my Short and Free Programme scores attained in my last international competitions.”

Like Judge, Sophia Tkacheva will also be making her long-awaited Junior Grand Prix debut in Slovakia at the beginning of September. She is eager to get back competing after the ups and downs and interruptions of the past year.

“I was very disappointed to hear that the JGP got cancelled last year as I trained a lot and was well prepared,” Tkacheva said. “This season is quite different. I had a long break since the country went under a lockdown and the ice rink was closed for almost six months. I did plenty of in-line skating but it is certainly not the same. I found it tough to stay off the ice for so long and I’m so happy to be back!

“I regret I haven’t gotten more time to get ready for my first JGP,  but I have been working very hard with my coaches for the last couple of months and I will present my new free programme. I will do my best and fingers crossed I will perform well.”

Tkacheva is looking forward to a return to normality this season so she can continue working on her technical progression.

“This season I will continue to work on my triple jumps. I hope there will be no more restrictions and my training schedule will not be affected as much as last season.”

Elizabeth Golding is the veteran of the trio with previous Junior Grand Prix experience in 2018 and 2019. She is eager to show what she has been practicing during the off season and will appear in the Junior Grand Prix in Austria in early October.

“In terms of my skating, I have been working on improving the quality of my programmes, working on getting those levels on my spins and step sequences, as well as adding choreography,” Golding said. “I have also been working hard on my triple jumps, and attempting to add them in my programmes.

“My goals for the JGP this year are to perform cleanly (with regard to spins, step sequences and transitions) and to show good attempts of the new triple jumps I have learnt this year, as well as get the minimum scores for Worlds.”

More than anything else, Golding is looking forward to getting back on the ice and compete.

“I am going to try to just enjoy myself!”

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 2021/2022 season marks the 24th 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.

The first of the seven stages will be held this week with live coverage available on the ISU’s dedicated YouTube channel. The conversation about the series can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure hashtag on social media.