This weekend (17-18 June) brought the top Irish figure skating talent to the Dundee Ice Arena in Dundee, Scotland for the 2023 edition of the Irish National Figure Skating Championships.
On the opening day competition, champions were crowned in the Senior and Junior ice dance categories.
Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus (Co. Wexford) made history by becoming the first Senior team to compete at the event. They first performed their rhythm dance to ‘Perdiendo el Control’
by De La Ghetto x Marco Acevedo and ‘Quererte Bonito’ by Elena Rose & Sebastián Yatra. They executed a Level 4 twizzle sequence, Level 4 partial steps and Level 4 rotational lift as well as garnering Level 3 for their midline step sequence scoring 63.84 points.
Soucisse and Firus came back for their free dance which they skated to ‘Hier Encore’ and ‘La Bohème’ by Charles Aznavour. They included Level 4 straight line and Level 4 rotational lifts and a Level 4 dance spin in their performance. Both skaters also earned Level 3 for their diagonal step and one foot turns sequences. They were awarded a score of 96.66 points by the judging panel to give them a combined score of 160.50 points and their first national title.
“Irish Nationals was such a unique and special experience for Shane and I,” Soucisse said. “The warm welcome and support we received from the athletes and members of the federation was absolutely fantastic. Joining the ISAI was the best decision we have made, not only for our skating career but also because we feel like we gained a new family! I would like to thank all members of the ISAI for the unforgettable memories we have made here and for all the ones to come.”
“Irish Nationals was an absolutely amazing experience and we were blown away with how welcoming and warm the ISAI were,” Firus said. “All of the members of the ISAI welcomed us with open arms and made Irish Nationals an experience that we will never forget. For me it was a particularly special moment as growing up my Nana from Gorey, County Wexford always talked about Ireland and how she missed the people. After this past weekend it’s easy to understand why. When we stood at the top of the podium being the first Irish Senior Ice Dance Champions, I was filled with pride thinking of how lucky we are to represent such an incredible country. What made this historic moment even more special were the individuals who shared this moment with us. It was as emotional for them as it was for us.”
2022 champions Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty (Co. Dublin) were competing again this year in the Junior ice dance event. They opened with their rhythm dance to ‘Sombrero Blanco’ from the Mask of Zorro soundtrack by Mala Rumba and ‘Assassin’s Tango’ from the Mr. and Mrs. Smith soundtrack by John Powell. Their routine consisted of five elements with the highest scoring ones the Level 1 diagonal step sequence (5.92) and a Level 2 rotational lift (3.47). They scored 26.55 points for the segment.
Hegarty and Hegarty followed with the free dance to ‘Harem’ by Sarah Brightman. They began with Level 2 and Level 1 synchronised twizzles respectively for Laura and Kevin with a Level 2 dance spin in quick succession. They achieved Level 3 for their rotational lift and Level 1 for their diagonal steps. Their free score of 46.29 points was a big new personal best and also gave them a career best total of 72.84 points for their second Junior title.
The ice and all the conditions for the competition were very good,” Laura Hegarty said. “We started the day very early in the morning, but we were able to skate comfortably. Nationals gives us the chance to see other skaters and it’s nice to cheer each other on.”
“The entire experience was great and it was nice to see our fellow skaters again,” Kevin Hegarty said. “The organisers of the competition were very welcoming, even though it was only our second time visiting. The support from the people watching was also great.”
Dillon Judge (Co. Dublin) moved up to the Senior men’s event this year and commenced his competition on the opening day with his short programme to ‘Smile’ by Nat King Cole. He started off with a cleanly landed triple Salchow and then attempted a triple toe loop combination which resulted in a fall as did an attempt at a double Axel. He posted Level 3 for each of his three spins and Level 2 for his step sequence. He scored 36.04 points for his short.
In the free skating, Judge landed a triple Salchow and back that up with a double Axel. He garnered Level 3 for his flying sit spin and his step sequence in his Jamie Callum medley programme. He racked up a free score of 71.83 points to give him a total of 107.87 points and a first Senior Men’s national title.
“Irish Nationals was a good way to end off this season, with winning my first Senior Irish National title, getting to skate my new short programme, the team building and meeting the new Irish skaters,” Judge said.
Sophia Tkacheva (C0. Wexford) took the lead in the Junior women’s short programme with her routine to ‘Bust Your Knee Caps (Johnny Don’t Leave Me)’ by Pomplamoose . The 2020 champion went for a double Axel, but fell on the jump. She rallied with a double Lutz-double toe loop combination and a solo double loop. Both her layback spin and change foot combination spin garnered Level 4. She stood in first place overnight with a score of 34.48 points.
Ciera Turner-Frick (Co. Cork) in her first appearance at an Irish Championships attempted a double Axel to start her performance, but she also fell. She did recover to land a solo double loop and double flip-double toe loop combination. She closed out her short with a Level 4 change foot combination spin. Her score of 27.01 points put her in second place going into the free skating.
Tkacheva launched into her free skating to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi with a double flip-single Axel sequence. She next attempted a double Axel, but fell on the element. She recovered to reel off two solo double loops and closed out her routine with a Level 4 layback spin. She received a free score of 57.37 points which put her in first place overall with a total of 91.85 points. This is her second Junior National title.
“My experience at Nationals this year was amazing,” Tkacheva said. “I got to skate my last competition of the season and meet all the new skaters that competed here. My expectations for my result were set relatively low considering I’m still recovering and coming back into shape from an injury that had put a stop to my training and competing for two months but regardless of the stress fracture I still went onto the ice and skated my best. It was a great way to end this competitive season and I’m proud of how I was able to focus on my skating and performance.
“This was my last time skating this free programme and I really wanted to pour everything I had into that last skate and I think I did just that. I really loved this programme and I’m glad that the last time that I skated it turned out the way it did. This is the second time that I’ve won Junior Nationals and I was overjoyed to receive this title. As I’ve already said I didn’t expect to come out with the result that I did and winning nationals is a great way for me to end this season and a really proud accomplishment.”
Turner-Frick began her free skating with a double loop and landed a single axel immediately afterwards. She next completed two combination jumps – double flip-double toe loop and double Lutz-double toe loop. The technical panel graded her change foot combination spin Level 4. A mistake on a double Lutz towards the final stage of her programme saw her fall. She scored 52.95 points in the free which gave her an overall score of 79.96 points and second place.
“I really enjoyed meeting all the other Irish skaters and competing at my first Nationals,” Turner-Frick said.
Saoirse O’Sullivan (Co. Tipperary) made her Irish Nationals debut in the Advanced Novice girls category. She laid down a single Axel to begin her short programme and followed with double flip-double toe loop combination. She earned Level 3 for her sit spin and change foot combination spin. She scored 22.97 points.
O’Sullivan embarked on her free skating with a double flip and then a double flip-double toe loop combination. She then succeeded in landing a double loop-single Axel-single Axel sequence and executed a Level 3 flying sit spin. She fell on a double loop later on in her routine, but was able to come back with a Level 3 change foot combination spin to finish. Her free score was 42.49 which gave her a combined total of 65.46 points for first place.
“I can’t express how special this experience has been for me – becoming Advanced Novice Irish Champion 2023 has been a dream come true and I will always remember this amazing feeling,” O’Sullivan said.
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