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.