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Stakelum Skates To Top 30 Finish At Euros

In his fourth appearance at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships, Conor Stakelum (28) has finished 30th in the men’s short programme which concluded earlier today in Tallinn, Estonia. Although he did not advance to the free skating on Friday, this is his highest placement ever at the event.

Skating to “Soulseeker” by Thomas Bergersen, Stakelum began his routine with a triple Salchow and followed that with a triple toe loop-triple toe loop jump combination and a double Axel. He also earned a Level 4 for a flying sit spin and six out of seven of the elements he performed received positive grades of execution from the judging panel. He was awarded a new ISU personal best score of 56.00 points.

The Dubliner was a last-minute replacement for Sam McAllister who had to withdraw from Europeans last Friday due to a positive Covid-19 test result. Stakelum had three days notice that he would be travelling to Estonia as a substitute.

“On Friday afternoon, I came out of work and I had so many notifications on my phone,” Stakelum said. “I wondered what I had done!”

Stakelum currently works in the NHS in Scotland and plans to keep competing after this season.

“I am going to stick around for another year competing because we lost a year to Covid. In Dundee, I am able to skate around my career and I still enjoy it.”

Unexpected Fourth Euros Appearance Beckons For Stakelum

Conor Stakelum (28) participates in his fourth ISU European Figure Skating Championships which begins tomorrow in Tallinn Estonia.

Stakelum was a last-minute substitute for Sam McAllister who was originally selected to represent Ireland in the men’s event at the Tondiraba Ice Hall but had to withdraw after a positive Covid-19 test result last Friday (7 January).

The Dubliner will be in the first group of skaters to take to the ice tomorrow morning (12 January) in the men’s short programme which starts at 10:05 Irish time. The top 24 athletes after the short will proceed to the free skating on Friday (14 January).

“It’s nice to be back at Europeans even if it was a bit of a surprise and a bit of a whirlwind to see if I could get here,” Stakelum said. “This time last week I didn’t even know I was going so it’s kind of a bonus.”

You can follow Stakelum’s progress live on Eurosport or the ISU’s YouTube channel and on social media via the #EuroFigure and #UpAgain hashtags.

 

McAllister Withdraws From Europeans

Sam McAllister (23) has withdrawn from the men’s event at next week’s ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia (10-16 January) due to a positive pre-departure Covid-19 PCR test.

McAllister had also been selected for the 2021 Europeans in Zagreb, Croatia which were subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic.

“I am completely devastated that my second Europeans has been stopped in its tracks due to the Covid-19 pandemic – first being cancelled and second being unable to travel after contracting the virus two days before I fly,” McAllister said.

“I will come back from this fighting harder and will aim for the World Championships now. A huge thank you to everyone that has been kind to take time out of their busy day to wish me well. I appreciate you all and good luck to Conor in Tallinn.”

McAllister will be replaced by substitute Conor Stakelum who will be competing at his fourth Europeans.

“I feel very bad for Sam, as no one wants to be unable to compete,” Stakelum said. “I wish him a speedy recovery.

“It is not how I expected it to happen, but I am excited to go to Europeans nonetheless.”

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.

 

Irish Figure Skaters Wrap Up 2021 At Santa Claus Cup

Three Irish skaters competed this week at the Santa Claus Cup in Budapest, Hungary.

Sam McAllister (23) and Conor Stakelum (28) took part in the Senior Men’s event. McAllister drew first to skate in the short programme where he opened with a triple flip and went for a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination. He also included a double Axel and two Level 4 spins in his routine to score 54.16 points for sixth place after the short. Stakelum skated third and began with a triple loop and a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination. He also landed a double Axel and two of his spins were awarded Level 3 by the technical panel. He scored 50.22 points to sit in eighth position overnight.

Stakelum was the first of the two Irish skaters to appear in the free skating the following day. He started with a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and went on to land three more triple jumps in his routine. He closed out his performance with a Level 4 change foot combination spin to earn 101.78 points and seventh place in the free to give himself a total score of 152 points. McAllister was on the ice shortly afterwards and commenced his programme with a triple Lutz and a double Axel. He attempted three more triples and executed two Level 4 spins. He scored 99.03 points for eighth place in the free with his total of 153.19 putting him in seventh overall just ahead of Stakelum in eighth.

“This was my third competition of the season and, after a week off with injury, I am proud of how I skated,” McAllister said. “I will keep training hard for my next competition.”

“Although the outcome may not be what I was hoping for, I enjoyed every second of my free programme today,” Stakelum said. “Having struggled a lot with nerves since coming back this season after the long break, I can only thank my wonderful coaches for helping me to get back on track.”

Dillon Judge (17) participated in the Junior Men’s event. In the short, he attempted a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and double Axel to start and later on in his programme he opted for a double flip. He received a score of 38.55 points which was close to his lifetime best and he stood in 11th place at the first segment of the event.

Judge returned to the ice the following day for the free. As with the short, he began with a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and a double Axel. Later on he attempted a solo triple Salchow and another double Axel and was given a Level 3 for a flying sit spin. He posted a score of 70.23 points for the free and 108.78 points for his competition total which were both new career bests. He finished in 11th place overall.

“I am feeling really good and my competition fitness is back,” Judge said. “My routines went well and I achieved my highest combined score. After all the time off ice, things appear to be going in the right direction. I want to build on this performance and give better consistent performances.”

Stakelum 28th At Warsaw Cup

Conor Stakelum (28) has finished in 28th place at the Warsaw Cup in Poland.

Stakelum began the competition with the short programme. He opened with a triple loop attempt and went on to land a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination and a double Axel. He was awarded a Level 4 for a flying sit spin and received a score of 52.25 points for the segment which had him sitting in 28th place overnight.

The following afternoon Stakelum was back on the ice at the Torwar Arena for the free skating. He attempted a triple flip to open his routine and landed a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and a solo triple toe loop later on in the programme. He earned 87.30 points for the free giving him a combined total of 139.55 to remain in 28th place overall.

Stakelum Set For Warsaw Cup

Conor Stakelum (28) competes this weekend at the Warsaw Cup in Poland (18-20 November), an ISU Challenger Series event.

Stakelum will start with the short programme on Thursday evening (18 November) with the free skating taking place on Friday afternoon (19 November).

“My goal for this competition is to continue to get used to competing again and to perform how I do in training,” Stakelum said.

 

Irish Skaters Make Strides At Tayside Trophy

A five-strong team of Irish figure skaters competed over the weekend at the Tayside Trophy in Dundee, Scotland (6-7 November).

First to take to the ice was Sophia Tkacheva in the Junior Women’s Short Programme who skated last weekend in the Tirnavia Ice Cup in Slovakia. She attempted a double Axel, a double Lutz-double toe loop and a double flip in her routine and also executed a Level 4 change foot combination spin. She scored 28.23 points to put herself in ninth place.

Robyn Foster followed Tkacheva in the same category in her debut event representing Ireland. She tried a double Axel, a triple Salchow jump combination and a double flip and her change foot combination spin was also graded Level 4. At the end of the short, Foster was a whisker ahead of Tkacheva in eighth place on 28.24 points.

In the Junior Women’s Free Skating the next day, Tkacheva appeared first skating to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi. She opened with a triple Salchow attempt and also included three jump combinations in her programme. She received a score of 51.07 points for a total of 79.30 which left her in tenth place in the final standings.

“Today wasn’t my best skate for sure and I made some silly mistakes,” Tkacheva said. “I am happy that I attempted my triple Salchow. I just need to learn to combine the hard jumps and the doubles and to stay focused no matter what happens during the programme and to work on my elements overall.”

Foster skated right after Tkacheva and commenced with a double Axel attempt and she also successfully landed a second one later on in her routine to “Scheherazade” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Two of her spins were deemed Level 3 by the technical panel and she posted a free score of 63.38 which moved her up into seventh overall with a total of 91.62 points.

“It was a really good experience to skate for Ireland,” Foster said. “Even though I made some mistakes, I got a personal best, so I know there is so much more room for improvement next time. I’m going to work on being more confident with my Axels and enjoying my programmes to the fullest.”

Dillon Judge was the sole Irish entrant in the Junior Men’s category. In the short programme, he started with a triple salchow-double toe loop combination and went on to land a double Axel and a double flip. He was awarded a score of 38.81 which was a new personal best and had him in second place overnight.

Judge performed to a medley of Jamie Callum songs for his free skating and he opened with a solo triple Salchow which he followed with a double Axel. He also tried to go for a triple Salchow combination later on in the routine and his step sequence was given a Level 3. A free score of 57.87 gave him a total of 96.68 and he maintained his second place in the standings.

“The short programme went very well,” Judge said. “The only slight error was the combo spin where I stumbled, so the next time I’ll improve on that. In the free skating there were quite a few errors which I’m not the most happy with, but the highlight of the programme was the double Axel because I showed the quality of what I can do. Next time I hope that I can improve the consistency of the jumps throughout the programme.”

Conor Stakelum and Sam McAllister were the final two Irish skaters in action as they lined up in the Senior Men’s event. Stakelum was the first to skate in the short programme. He doubled a planned triple loop, but came back with a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination and a double Axel. Two of his spins received Level 4 and he scored 49.05 to place ninth in the segment.

McAllister took to the ice in the following group of skaters and began with a triple flip before attempting a triple Lutz combination. He also landed a double Axel and two spins in his routine got a Level 4 from the technical panel. A score of 45.25 left him in 12th place going into the free skating.

Skating to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film soundtrack, McAllister was first to perform in the free skating. He started with a triple Lutz and a double Axel and then went on to attempt a double Axel-triple toe loop combination, a triple Salchow and a triple Lutz sequence among other elements. He achieved Level 4 for both a flying sit spin and a change foot combination spin and garnered 87.33 points for the free which gave him a total of 132.58 and 11th place overall.

“I had a good start in the free today, McAllister said. “It’s still only my second competition since the whole pandemic began. I’m looking forward to getting out there again at my next event in Poland later this month.”

Stakelum was the final Irish skater to take to the ice at the Tayside Trophy. He performed his free to “Riverdance” by Bill Whelan and embarked with triple flip and triple loop attempts. He landed a triple Salchow and a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination midway through the routine and also was given Level 4 for his flying sit spin and change foot combination spin. He scored 91.11 points for the free which meant he had a total of 140.16 and final placement of tenth.

“I was a bit disappointed with my short programme, missing things that are quite easy for me,” Stakelum said. “Although the free skating had a lot of messy elements, it’s the hardest programme I have ever gone for and landed my flip. There are lots of positives to take forward and I just need to polish things up now.”

Stakelum 29th At Nebelhorn Trophy

Earlier today Conor Stakelum (28) concluded the second of two consecutive days of competition at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, the final qualifying event for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, finishing in 29th outside of a quota place.

Stakelum skated in the first warm-up group of the short programme yesterday morning where he debuted his new routine to “Soulseeker” by Thomas Bergersen. This season he is including the triple flip jump which he successfully landed as well as a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination. After an uncharacteristic mistake on a double Axel, he rallied to to execute a Level 4 flying sit spin and a Level 3 step sequence to earn 53.01 points for the segment.

For the free skating this season, Stakelum has chosen to perform to music from “Riverdance” by Bill Whelan. After a cautious start, he delivered a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination, a triple Salchow on its own followed by a Level 4 flying sit spin and a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination. He closed out the programme with a Level 4 change foot combination spin. He scored 87.66 for a combined total of 140.67 points.

“I am happy to have competed again after such a long time off,” Stakelum said. “This was the first free programme I have done in competition since November 2019, so 21 months!

“All the same I am disappointed that I couldn’t perform as well as I have been training. I was glad to get a triple flip out in the short which is new for me.

“I am looking forward to showing what I can do at more competitions this season.”

Seven skaters from the United States, France, Russia, South Korea, Azerbaijan, Australia and Canada claimed the remaining quota places available for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Stakelum Seeks Beijing Olympic Berth At Nebelhorn Trophy

Conor Stakelum (28) is Ireland’s sole representative at the Nebelhorn Trophy 2021 this week in Oberstdorf, Germany which serves as the final qualifying competition in figure skating for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Stakelum joins athletes from 25 other nations who will be seeking to pick up one of the remaining seven places available in the men’s singles event next February in China. Twenty-three places were already allocated at the World Figure Skating Championships in March of this year.

The five-time Irish senior champion and native Dubliner, who trains in Dundee, Scotland under the tutelage of Olympic coach Simon Briggs, will compete in Germany over the course of two days in short programme and free skating segments.

The Nebelhorn Trophy begins tomorrow 23 September and runs until 25 September. Stakelum will compete initially tomorrow morning (Thursday, 23 September) and again in the afternoon of Friday 24 September.

This will be Stakelum’s first competition since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Rink closures and travel restrictions have hampered his ability to train and compete over the past 16 months.

“I have worked very hard in the absence of competitions over the last year to improve my skating, increase the difficulty of my programmes and to be ready to compete when the chance came,” Stakelum said.

During the pandemic, the Dubliner put his degree in microbiology to good use when he signed up to the HSE Be On Call for Ireland recruitment drive in 2020 and was assigned to work as a laboratory assistant at a Dublin hospital. He is currently employed by the NHS in Scotland.

Stakelum will debut two new programmes in Germany. He will perform in the free skating to “Riverdance” by Bill Whelan.

“Obviously, this is a very well-known piece of music which many people enjoy,” Stakelum said. “I have always wanted to do a programme with an Irish theme so I am glad to be doing so this season.”

Stakelum’s progress in Germany can be followed via live stream (links below) and the Ice Skating Association of Ireland’s social media accounts.

Nebelhorn Trophy Live Stream

Day 1 (23 September)

Day 2 (24 September)

Conor Stakelum International Skating Union Bio