Three members of Ireland’s national figure skating team were in action this weekend at Golden Spin of Zagreb in Croatia with entrants in both the men and ice dance categories, a first for Irish skating in an ISU Challenger Series stop.
Dillon Judge was the first of the Irish skaters to compete when he took to the ice for his short programme on the first evening of the event. He opened up with a triple Salchow that he stepped out of and then he fell on a triple Lutz attempt. He executed a Level 2 change foot camel spin before completing a Level 4 change foot combination spin. He landed a clean double Axel which he followed with a Level 3 flying sit spin and a Level 2 step sequence to close out his routine to “Smile” by Nat King Cole. He scored a new ISU personal best of 44.93 points.
Judge was back the following day for the free skating segment. He commenced with a triple toe loop that he fell on, a step out of a triple Lutz and another fall on a double Axel. After that rocky start, he settled himself with a Level 3 flying sit spin and hung on to the landing of a triple Salchow. He garnered Level 2 for a change foot combination spin and continued with a choreographic sequence in his programme to “My Homeland” by Havasi, performed by Peter Pejtsik. He fell out of the landing of a second triple Salchow and opted for a double Lutz and a double loop as his final two jumping passes. He received Level 2 for a step sequence and Level 3 for a change foot combination spin. Despite feeling he did not skate to his full potential, his free score of 71.11 and total of 116.04 were both new ISU personal bests.
“In both programmes it did not go the way that I wanted and had been practicing which was disappointing,” Judge said. “For the first time ever, I felt nervous and some pressure to perform which I think did not help, but this year is a year of development so sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. In the New Year, I aim to add some more technical content for my next competition as this one was not a true reflection of my abilities and I feel I can do more.”
Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus took on the rhythm dance on the third day of the event. Skating to a Rick James medley as their 1980s theme, the duo began with a midline step sequence for which they were both graded Level 2 by the technical panel. They encountered issues with their sequential twizzle sequence due to some bobbles and again each of their efforts were given Level 2. Their pattern dance type step sequence was deemed base level and that element was followed by a choreographic rhythm sequence. They wound things up strongly with a Level 4 rotational lift and scored 54.04 points for the segment.
On the final day of competition, Soucisse and Firus performed their free dance to “Hier Encore” by Charles Aznavour and an instrumental version of “La Boheme”, which started with a choreographic step sequence. They next included a lift combination featuring a straightline lift and a rotational lift which alone netted them more than one fifth of their final technical score. For their diagonal step sequence, Soucisse received a Level 3 while Firus got Level 2 with a subsequent one foot turns sequence Level 2 and Level 1 respectively. They both were awarded Level 1 for their synchronised twizzle sequence and their dance spin was a Level 4. They rounded off the routine with choreographic sliding and spinning movement and the crescendo of the dance was a Level 4 stationary lift. They scored 90.41 points for the free giving them a total of 144.45 points for 12th place.
“We are happy with the progress in the performances from this week compared to last week in Istanbul,” Soucisse said. “There’s still a lot of work to do, but we are looking forward to going back home, working very hard and being back stronger for Europeans!”
“Golden Spin was another step forward for us this season,” Firus said. “We were able to skate two programmes which were both better than last week. It was also great to watch a fellow team member compete this week as well!”
This season Golden Spin of Zagreb is part of the ISU Challenger Series, the latter having been introduced in 2014. It is a series of international Figure Skating Competitions organised by ISU members. Through ISU support, the objective is to ensure the proper and consistent organisation and conduct of up to ten international competitions linked together within the Challenger Series. The series gives adequate opportunities for many skaters to compete at the international senior level and earn World Standing Points. The series also increases the opportunity for officials to officiate at an international level.