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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.”

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.”