Smooth Sailing: Conor Stakelum Embarks on New Career on the High Seas

Following his retirement from international competition in 2022, Irish figure skater Conor Stakelum did not hang up his skates and instead began working in skating shows aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships. The four-time European competitor talked to us about what life is like as a performer entertaining audiences while sailing from port to port.

What inspired you to become a skater on a cruise ship?
I knew a few skaters who had done it before and the shows looked really good from the clips I had seen. I had also always enjoyed the travelling side of competing and there are a lot of places I want to see so I think it’s a really cool way to travel a lot and also still skate.

What is your favourite part of performing on a cruise ship?
My favourite part is seeing how much the audience is enjoying and appreciating the performances. It is really nice when you get a standing ovation from the audience which actually happens quite a bit because the shows are really good and they are designed really well for the audience. It’s a much more interactive experience than performing while competing which I really enjoy. I also get to enjoy performing much more when I am doing the shows than I was competing because I don’t feel nervous. It’s a much more enjoyable feeling with obviously a different focus.

Can you tell us about a particularly memorable performance or moment on the cruise ship that stands out?
One performance that stands out to me would be the opening night on Oasis of the Seas which is the ship I am on right now because all of our cast got on together and we did rehearsals together on the ship. When we opened the show, it was really nice because we’d all been through the rehearsal process and learning the show and learning our solos and rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing and then we finally got to perform for an audience.

How do you stay in shape and maintain your skills while performing on the ship?
We get to practice on the rink on the ship. We always have warm-ups before the shows for half an hour in different groups of three skaters at a time. We practice all our skills before every show and then on other days there is also ice available where we can practice or train if we want to do so. We can also use the gym. It’s a really nice gym and I go there a lot. That’s how I stay in shape and maintain my skills while I am on the ship which is obviously very important because that’s my job.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in figure skating or performing on a cruise ship?
The advice I would give is to work on your skating because the better a skater you are the more chance you have of being hired and also the more enjoyable and easier performing will be for you. For example, you can do a double Axel, but can you do a double Axel in spotlights when you are not really that warm with a heavy costume on and other people really close to you? The more comfortable you are with your skills as a skater, the better you are going to do in any kind of professional setting. That would be my best advice – just work on your skating and be open to new ideas, different styles of music and dance and go for it and apply for things!

What is your favourite destination that you have visited while performing on a cruise ship, and why?
My favourite destination is probably San Juan in Puerto Rico. I found it really beautiful. The old town was absolutely stunning. I hadn’t ever thought of going to San Juan or anywhere like that so I was pleasantly surprised.

How do you collaborate with other performers to create a cohesive show?
During the rehearsal process the whole cast got to know each other quite well. I’ve been very lucky as I have had some really great cast members and we get on really well. You are just always aware of your spacing with other performers, what you are supposed to be doing, on what count of the music everything is supposed to be on because if everyone’s on time and you are all in the right space, the show is going to look good. Just being aware of everybody and getting along well with your cast so that it is enjoyable to perform with other skaters, to create something. When skating is in a competitive environment, it is such an individual sport so it’s really nice to be a team with your cast.

Can you share any behind the scenes insights or secrets about what goes into putting on a successful performance on a cruise ship?
I don’t know if I have any secrets into what goes into putting on a successful performance on a cruise ship, but I would say the most interesting thing is probably when the ship rocks that can be a challenge. You can feel it, but it feels almost as if you are skating up and downhill. You just have to be conscious, especially the pairs teams with their lifts and pairs tricks have got to be careful. All the solo skaters have got to be careful on their jumps obviously because you might land a bit earlier than you were expecting. So, you’ve just got to be prepared for it, but you do get used to it. That would be the biggest challenge and maybe it counts as behind the scenes because you still have to make the show look like the ship isn’t rocking which is definitely a challenge.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time when you are not performing on the ship?
In my free time on and off the ship, I like to explore the ports if I have the chance which mostly I can and see the kind of places where we are. I love to swim in the sea because it is quite warm in the Caribbean. I also like to go to the gym on the ship, even just relaxing on some of the areas of the ship is nice. I pretty much just like to chill out when I am not performing.

Where can people see you perform over the coming months?
For the next few months, I will be aboard Oasis of the Seas between New York, Florida, and the Caribbean.

Conor Stakelum Appointed ISAI Anti-Doping Officer

The Ice Skating Association is pleased to announce that Conor Stakelum has been appointed as ISAI Anti-Doping Officer.

Stakelum has represented Ireland in multiple international competitions, including four European Figure Skating Championships. He graduated from University College Dublin with a degree in microbiology and has previously worked in medical science.

“I am confident that Conor will make a valuable contribution to the ISAI’s efforts to promote clean sport and protect the health and well-being of our athletes,” ISAI President Seán Gillis said.

Irish Ice Skating Thrived In 2022 Reaching New Heights

Irish ice skating broke new ground in 2022 as activities largely resumed after pandemic restrictions were lifted.

The year began dramatically when Conor Stakelum stepped in at the last moment to compete in Tallinn, Estonia at his fourth European Figure Championships in January. He placed 3oth which was his highest placement ever at the event.

February saw figure skating national team members Adare Condon, Dracy Condon, Robyn Foster, Elizabeth Golding and Sam McAllister participate at international competitions across Europe.

In March, Elizabeth Golding became the first skater to represent Ireland at the European Youth Olympic Festival when the postponed edition in Vuokatti, Finland finally was held. She placed 26th.

Sean McAnuff and Liam O’Brien became the first skaters from Ireland to compete in the same category at an ISU World Championships when they raced at Short Track Speed Skating Worlds in Montreal, Canada in April. They finished 35th and 37th respectively. The same month Dillon Judge, Robyn Foster and Sophia Tkacheva all placed inside the top ten at the Kurbada Cup in Riga, Latvia, while Sam McAllister claimed a silver medal at the Triglav Trophy in Jesenice, Slovenia. Amidst all of that, the Irish Winter Sports National Governing Bodies, including the Ice Skating Association of Ireland, together with the Olympic Federation of Ireland launched the Irish Winter Sports Strategy.

The 2021/2022 season concluded with the Irish Figure Skating Championships held for the first time since 2020. The Dundee Ice Arena hosted the competition over two days with Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty crowned the first ever champions in the Junior Ice Dance event. Sam McAllister and Dillon Judge both won third national titles in their respective categories, while Robyn Foster picked up her first national title.

In July, Conor Stakelum announced his retirement following a career where among other achievements he made history by becoming the first Irish male skater to participate at a European Figure Skating Championships. Among the 2022/2023 figure skating national team members selected were Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty, another first for Irish ice dance.

Ireland fielded its largest ever team at an ISU Junior Grand Prix with Dillon Judge (Men), Robyn Foster (Women) and Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty (Ice Dance) taking to the ice in Courchevel, France at the end of August. The Hegartys also became the first ever ice dance team to represent Ireland at an ISU event. The same weekend Sam McAllister took a bronze medal at the Britannia Figure Cup in Sheffield.

Sophia Tkacheva joined Dillon Judge and Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty in Gdansk, Poland for Team Ireland’s second designated ISU Junior Grand Prix of the season in late September.

In October, Sam McAllister, Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva were back at the Dundee Ice Arena for Tayside Trophy. Both Judge and Tkacheva posted a new set of season bests, while McAllister collected valuable ISU World Ranking points in coming fifth in his event.

Emerald Skate Learn To Skate lessons returned in November with courses held at Dundrum On Ice. Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva rounded out 2022 by competing at the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany. The ISAI Annual General Meeting was held virtually on 30 November and a new Board of Directors was elected.

The final month of 2022 began in spectacular style with an Ice Parade of Nations held at Dundrum On Ice to celebrate the inaugural World Ice Skating Day on 4 December. Liam O’Brien participated in back to back World Cups in Almaty, Kazakhstan setting a new national record in the 1000 metres and also becoming the first Irish short track speed skater to qualify for a World Cup semi-final.

2022 has been a landmark year for Irish ice skating with new heights achieved across a range of disciplines. The ISAI looks forward to making 2023 an even better year with the continued cooperation of all our stakeholders.

Conor Stakelum: No Regrets As He Moves On From Competitive Skating

Last month, Conor Stakelum announced that he was retiring from competitive skating. The four-time European Championships Irish representative sat down for a chat to reflect on a career that has seen him serve as a pioneer for men’s figure skating in Ireland.

ISAI: As an athlete, timing when to retire is always tricky. What prompted you to make this decision?

Conor Stakelum: I was originally planning to continue for another season, but then I was thought about it and I didn’t really think I could achieve much more than what I had already done. I didn’t see that there was anything I could do that would make me feel more satisfied than how I already feel. There’s other things I would like to do with skating while I still can.

ISAI: How long did it take for you to make your mind up?
CS: I thought about it for about a week and then I spoke to my coaches, Simon (Briggs) and Debi (Briggs). We had a discussion about it and it was all very positive. They would have supported me either direction, if I decided to say or if I decided to stop. They trust me to know what’s best for myself and they’ll support me in that. I was a little bit sad. At the same time, it was my own decision. I think it’s actually a luxury as an athlete to retire on your own terms and have a positive feeling. I did everything I wanted to do.

ISAI: Let’s go back to where your journey in skating started. Did the young guy who began skating at a pop-up rink in Booterstown ever imagine having the career that you had?
CS: I had no concept of skating. I knew people on TV did skating and that was a bit different to what I was doing. I didn’t even think I would do a competition. I just enjoyed it. Everything carried on from there. I didn’t start and think ‘I want to go to the Olympics.’ To be fair, I never at any point in my career thought ‘I want to go to the Olympics’, because by the time I was aware of how you qualify for the Olympics, I thought I was probably not going to do that. The year that I went to the Junior Grand Prix in 2012 was the first time I had a concept of trying to get a score. I was trying to get the score for Junior Worlds. That was the first year where I felt like it would mean something big to me, not that it wasn’t a big thing before that to represent your country. That was the first time I had a thought that it would be an achievement if I could go to Junior Worlds. Obviously, I didn’t do that. Then I thought If I could go to Europeans, that would be big because I knew no (Irish) man had done it.

ISAI: You overcame a lot of obstacles throughout your career. You only started skating at the age of twelve. You had difficulties accessing training facilities. You had to balance life as an elite athlete while studying for a degree in microbiology.
CS: When I started Dundalk was open in Ireland and that was great. I probably wouldn’t have continued to skate if it was the situation that exists now. I wasn’t at a point where we would go to Belfast, because you’re not going to drive two and a half hours to do a single flip. Going to Dundalk was feasible. It was easy to go to the rink and it was a lovely facility. I had a really nice coach and lovely friends. It was just a pleasant environment, so obviously I did want to keep going. When that shut down in 2010, I could do a double Axel. I was acceptable as a skater and I wanted to keep skating. From there, it made sense to try and continue, but I didn’t really skate for about six months. I didn’t immediately go to Belfast. My start was not ideal. At the same time, I think the fact that I didn’t skate that much when I was young meant I’ve never had many issues with injury. I was able to go for quite a while. Even now, I don’t struggle with anything. Any injury I’ve ever had has been due to doing something stupid.

ISAI: What would you say was the highlight of your career?
CS: I would like to say it was going to Europeans in 2018 for the first time, but I actually didn’t enjoy that so much because I was so stressed. I would say my highlight was qualifying for Europeans by getting the (minimum technical) score at the preceding Nebelhorn Trophy in 2017. My favourite memory was getting the score in my free programme. If I got that score in my free programme now, I would cry for different reasons! At that point, it was that I got the score that I’d been struggling a lot to get. It was always possible. I had the short, not the free. The free should have been easy for me to get, but I would always pop two jumps or something like that and end up not getting the score or not do good spins or step out of things. There are other memories that are really good as well. Europeans this year. Europeans in Minsk (2019) was also a really nice memory. It was also beautiful seeing places that you just wouldn’t normally visit and to be able to combine that with the experience of representing your country is pretty cool. A lot of it was already unlikely that it would ever happen. Even the bits that were awful at the time, I don’t think of them as badly as I thought of them when they happened. They’re just funny. The things I thought were disasters, most of them I now find quite funny to tell as stories.

ISAI: What other moments stand out in your career?
CS: Competing on the Junior Grand Prix because I got to go to Lake Placid. I had never been to America before. Actually I’ve never been since! That was amazing. Also the Autumn Classic in Canada because (Yuzuru) Hanyu was in it and we were in the same group in the short programme. That was amazing. He was such a nice guy as well. I skated quite well so that makes it even a nicer memory. I got to meet Hanyu, and the place was so full with all the fans who were just fans of everybody as well. That was a brilliant event even though it was just a normal Challenger Series. I’ll always remember that one.

ISAI: You have said that you have done everything you wanted to do in competitive skating. Do you have any regrets?
CS: There are obviously things I would like to do if they were possible. I just was never going to go to the Olympics, but it was cool when my friends got to go. With the way Worlds work, I knew that I probably wasn’t going to get to go to Worlds. I’ve been close to the short programme score, but then the free, you need like 64 and the highest I’ve had was 55 clean. People might say I could add in this or add in that, but you have got to add them and do them perfectly. I didn’t really feel that was attainable for me. I wouldn’t say they were things I really wanted to do, because I never really fixated on them as a goal. Going to Europeans was my goal.

ISAI: What are your plans for the future?
CS: I am not completely finished with skating, so watch and see what I do next. I’m just finished with competing.

ISAI: What would be your one piece of advice for up and coming Irish skaters?
CS: My best piece of advice to any skater is to run your programmes. Focus on yourself and your own skating. Don’t try to compare yourself to everyone else and everyone you see on the TV. Try to make your own little improvements and enjoy the opportunities.

ISAI: Thank you Conor for representing Ireland so well. We are very proud of all you have achieved.
CS: Thank you! I never really would have done it without the support of the Association. I wouldn’t have known that it was possible. I watched Europeans on TV and I only saw people do triple Axels and quads. You just think everyone does quads and that’s what Europeans is for, but it’s not. It’s for all the countries in Europe if you are an acceptable standard or what the ISU deems an acceptable standard. If the Association hadn’t shown me how to get there, with all the support I’ve received over the years and all the competitions I was sent to, it wouldn’t have been possible. I want to thank Simon and Debi because they changed my skating completely. They put all the pieces together and, with all the support and advice over the past few years, they made things easier for not only me, but for the people I train with. It was a big thing as well to have such a great group of friends to train with who motivated each other and there was just a great environment, great atmosphere, great coaches. It was always enjoyable. Obviously I didn’t enjoy every day, but the whole experience was enjoyable because of everyone involved.

2022/2023 Irish Figure Skating Team Includes Ice Dancers For First Time

Seven figure skaters have been selected to represent Ireland in international competitions for the 2022/2023 season, including an ice dance team for the first time.

Sam McAllister won his third consecutive senior title in May this year. Coached by Margaret O’Neill in Nottingham and Sheffield, England, this will be his seventh season as a national team member.

“My goals for this season are to qualify for the World Championships and finally land a triple Axel,” McAllister said.

Conor Stakelum is a five-time senior national champion. He trains in Dundee, Scotland with Simon and Debi Briggs. He represented Ireland at four European Championships (2018-2020 and 2022).

“My goals for the upcoming season are to compete the way I train and to achieve new personal best scores,” Stakelum said.

Robyn Foster claimed her first national title at the Irish Championships back in May. She trains in Coventry, England under Marina Serova and this will be her third season on the Irish national team.

“I am aiming to achieve the senior test pass in the short programme and improve the consistency of my jumps in competition,” Foster said.

Sophia Tkacheva is the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships Junior Women’s champion. She includes eleven-time British champion Jenna McCorkell and two-time European bronze medallist Kevin van der Perren in her coaching team. This is her fourth season on the national team.

“In the upcoming season, I would like to work on my triple jumps, including more in my programmes and work on the levels of my spins since the regulation changes,” Tkacheva said. “I just got a new short programme so I’m really excited to skate it at my next competition and improve my confidence in performing.”

Dillon Judge retained the Junior Men’s national title at the Irish Figure Skating Championships this year. He trains in Sheffield, England with Margaret O’Neill. He made his ISU Junior Grand Prix debut in the 2021-2022 season.

“This season will see me perform new routines and my aim is to better my performances and results from last year,” Judge said. “I will also be working to achieve the test passes to allow me to move up to senior level next season. Being selected to represent Ireland and a member of the team is a great motivator which pushes me to train hard and do my best hopefully elevating the reputation of Irish skaters.”

Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty are the first ice dancers to ever be selected for the national team. The siblings won their first national title at the Irish Championships this year.

“I am very happy to be part of the national team,” Laura Hegarty said. “It is nice that we can skate with and encourage other teammates.”

“I want to do my best in each competition,” Kevin Hegarty added.

National Team Members (Figure Skating):

Senior Men – Sam McAllister (County Antrim), Conor Stakelum (County Dublin)

Junior Women – Robyn Foster (County Mayo), Sophia Tkacheva (County Wexford)

Junior Men – Dillon Judge (County Antrim)

Junior Ice Dance – Kevin Hegarty (County Dublin), Laura Hegarty (County Dublin)

You can learn more about our national team members here.

Four Titles Decided At 2022 Irish Figure Skating Championships

Four titles were decided at this weekend’s Irish National Figure Skating Championships which were held at the Dundee Ice Arena in Dundee, Scotland. The Championships took place for the first time since 2020.

The Senior Men’s event was a tightly fought battle between Sam McAllister and Conor Stakelum. In the short programme, Stakelum nailed a triple Salchow, a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and a double Axel in his routine with two spins graded Level 4. He received a score of 59.11 points to lead overnight.

McAllister was close behind Stakelum after including a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, a triple Lutz and a double Axel in his programme. He also had a flying sit spin graded Level 4 by the technical panel to earn 58.45 points and second place at the halfway point of the event.

The free skating took place earlier today and McAllister was first to take to the ice. Skating to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film soundtrack, he began with a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and followed that with a triple toe loop. He then attempted a triple flip and a triple Lutz one after the other and also landed a triple toe loop and two double Axels with one in combination. He scored 98.65 points in the free to give him a total of 157.10 and a third consecutive national title.

“I am really pleased with my performances this weekend at the National Championships,” McAllister said. “After a hard season, having to withdraw from Europeans due to getting Covid, it was nice to finish the season off on a high.”

Stakelum performed in the free to the “Riverdance” musical soundtrack and he came very close to denying McAllister gold. He commenced with a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and then attempted a triple flip. He also succeeded in landing a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, a triple Salchow, a triple toe loop and a double Axel. A free score of 97.48 points was not quite enough to hold off McAllister and he claimed silver with a total of 156.59 points.

“I was happy with my short programme and enjoyed skating at my home rink in front of my friends even though I did not have the performance I wanted in the free,” Stakelum said.

The Junior Women’s event turned into another nail biter. Reigning champion Sophia Tkacheva opened her short programme with a double Axel attempt and went on to land a double Lutz-double toe loop combination and a double flip. She was awarded a Level 4 for her flying sit spin and earned 35.10 points to put herself in pole position going into the free skating.

Robyn Foster was first to skate in the whole championships and her short contained double Axel and triple Salchow combination attempts as well as a double flip. A change foot combination spin got her a Level 3 and she came second in the short with a score of 30.58 points.

Foster was again the first of all the championship skaters onto the ice this afternoon. She started with a double Axel-double toe loop combination and then attempted a solo double Axel. She also inserted a double Lutz and two double flips into her “Scheherazade” routine as well as a double loop-Euler-double Salchow combination. A Level 3 flying sit spin was a highlight of her programme. She scored 60.28 points in the free to wind up with a total 90.86 points and a first national title.

“It didn’t all go to plan, but there were lots of good things to take away from this competition, like landing my Axels in the free,” Foster said. “It was great seeing the rest of the team and I can’t wait to compete again and make improvements.”

Tkacheva narrowly missed out on retaining her title. She went for a triple Salchow at the beginning of her free to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi and also attempted a double Axel in addition to a double loop, a double flip, a double flip-double toe loop combination and a double Lutz-single Axel sequence. She garnered Level 4 for two spins to give her a free score of 54.71 and a total of 89.82 for second place in the standings.

“I was very happy with how I skated my short,” Tkacheva said. “It was my new personal best for that programme and the last time I was skating to that music so I really poured my heart and soul into that performance. Maybe a little too much because my free skating didn’t go so well. I made several silly mistakes that I had worked on before and were easily preventable. This was my last competition of the season and I’m excited to train and work on both of my programmes this summer.”

Dillon Judge retained his Junior Men’s title. In the short programme, he attempted a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and a double Axel and landed a double flip. He completed a Level 4 flying sit spin and scored 35.46 points.

Judge opened his free programme with a clean triple Salchow and double Axel. He also included another triple Salchow attempt, double Lutz on its own and in combination with a double toe loop, a double flip-double toe loop and a double flip-Euler-double Salchow sequence. A free score of 70.32 points gave him a total of 105.78 points.

“The skates weren’t the skates I was looking for,” Judge said. “However, under the circumstances of being injured, I was content with the programmes. I am looking forward to next season when I have made a full recovery.”

Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty made history this weekend when they became the first ice dance team to participate at an Irish championship. Their blues rhythm dance featured five elements – two patterns, a twizzle sequence, midline steps and a rotational lift. The siblings achieved a new Irish record score of 25.33 points.

The Hegartys closed out the competition at these Irish Championships with their “Lord of the Dance” free dance. They commenced with a combination spin and then attempted synchronised twizzles. A one foot step sequence followed and they also performed a rotational lift, diagonal steps, choreographic twizzles and a choreographic step sequence. They set two more Irish records for their free (31.67) and total (57.00).

“Although our performance was flawed, the competition was fun and it was great to have the opportunity to show ice dance at Irish Nationals for the first time,” Kevin said. “My sister and I have a lot to work on before our next competition, where we hope to deliver a better performance.”

“The sense of support from the fellow competitors was especially apparent during this time,” Laura said. “Our mistakes motivate us to work hard and thrive to improve.”

Full detailed results for the Championships are available here.

Irish Figure Skating Championships Back On Ice After Pandemic Break

The Irish Figure Skating Championships take place this weekend (21-22 May) at the Dundee Ice Arena in Dundee, Scotland. The Championships were last held in February 2020 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Eligible skaters will compete in four separate categories.

In the Senior Men’s event, Sam McAllister is aiming to pick up his third consecutive national title. After the disappointment of not being able to compete at this season’s European Championships, McAllister bounced back with two new Irish records and a silver medal at Triglav Trophy in Slovenia last month.

The Dundee Ice Arena is where Conor Stakelum trains and is looking to take a fifth Senior Men’s title. In January, Stakelum was called up to skate at the European Championships at short notice and finished 30th, the highest he has ever placed at the event.

This is the second time Robyn Foster participates in the Junior Women’s event at the Irish Championships. Foster had to withdraw after the short programme in 2020 due to injury. She ranked seventh at the Tayside Trophy back in November which was held at the same venue and was also seventh at last month’s Kurbada Cup in Latvia.

Sophia Tkacheva is the reigning Junior Women’s national champion. In September 2021, she made her ISU Junior Grand Prix debut this season when she placed 25th in Kosice, Slovakia. She also finished tenth at the Tayside Trophy and eighth at the Kurbada Cup.

Dillon Judge is set to retain the Junior Men’s title he won at the 2020 Championships. Judge has had a successful season so far with a silver medal at the Tayside Trophy and bronze at Kurbada Cup. He also participated on the ISU Junior Grand Prix for the first time at events in Latvia and Austria.

History will be made by Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty who will become the first ice dance team to compete at the Irish Championships. The sister/brother duo are entered in the Junior Ice Dance category.

Regular updates from the Irish Figure Skating Championships will be posted on the Ice Skating Association of Ireland’s social media accounts.

Provisional schedule

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.”