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Irish Figure Skaters Round Out JGP Campaign In Poland

Ireland’s figure skaters concluded this season’s ISU Junior Grand Prix assignments when a team of four athletes competed at the Solidarity Cup this weekend in Gdansk, Poland.

First out of the gate was Sophia Tkacheva (17) in the women’s short programme on Day One of the competition. Skating to “Bust Your Knee Caps (Johnny Don’t Leave Me)” by Pomplamoose, she attempted a double Axel and landed a double Lutz-double toe loop combination and a double loop. She closed out with a Level 4 change foot combination spin that earned a positive grade of execution from the judging panel. She scored 30.13 points to sit in 41st place halfway through the event.

Tkacheva was back the following afternoon to participate in the free skating. In her routine to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi, she tried a triple Salchow to start and also attempted to include a double Axel later on in her performance. She once again executed a Level 4 change foot combination spin and received a free skating score of 43.21 to give her a total of 73.34 points and 46th place overall.

“Honestly, I think that the competition didn’t go well for me,” Tkacheva said. “I think i didn’t put my best foot forward especially in the free skate and I didn’t get to showcase what I’ve worked on over the summer. This is definitely something that I will focus on improving in the future. Nonetheless, this competition was a really big event that I’m really glad I had the opportunity to attend and talk a lot to incredible people like Javier Fernandez, Mark Hanretty and Ted Barton. The atmosphere was nothing like any other competition and I got to learn a lot about myself there too.

“For my next competition I will work on handling any nerves before my skate and my expressiveness during programmes. I will also focus on new spin combinations to get higher levels and better components.”

Dillon Judge (18) landed a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination to begin with in his short programme to “Englishman in New York” by Sting and Charl du Plessis. He also attempted a triple loop and a double Axel to follow. He garnered 33.28 points to occupy 26th place after the first portion of the competition.

Judge opened his free skating routine with attempts at triple Salchow and double Axel. He was awarded positive grades of execution for a Level 3 change foot combination spin as well as a double Axel-double toe loop combination later on in the programme. He scored season bests for his free (59.74) and total (93.02) which saw him finish in 26th place.

“My thoughts on the competition are that the free programme spins showed improvement since my last competition and there is room to improve and up the GOEs,” Judge said. “I will work on the jump GOEs to marginally gain on the TES and the spin consistency to gain better GOE and better levels for the next competition.”

After making history in August by becoming the first ice dance team from Ireland to compete internationally, Laura Hegarty (16) and Kevin Hegarty (19) were back on competitive ice to build on their performance at their first Junior Grand Prix assignment. In the rhythm dance, they skated to “Sombrero Blanco” by Mala Rumba from “The Mask of Zorro” film soundtrack and to “Assassin’s Tango” by John Powell from the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” film soundrack and negotiated the five required elements. They achieved Level 3 for a rotational lift and earned a season best score of 22.39 points to place 24th in the segment.

The Hegarty siblings were first up in the free dance earlier today and commenced with synchronised twizzles which were their highest scoring element in their programme to “Harem” by Sarah Brightman. The routine also comprised a dance spin, one foot turns sequence, a straightline lift, choreographic steps and slides, a rotational lift and a diagonal step sequence. They post another season best of 34.33 to bring them a total of 56.72 which kept them in 24th place.

“The people were very nice and the event was well organised,” Laura Hegarty said.

“This competition has allowed us to review what elements need to be improved,” Kevin Hegarty said. “We will try to maintain our physical fitness so that we will be in suitable condition when returning to the ice.”

All of Team Ireland’s performances at the Junior Grand Prix in Gdansk can be viewed on the ISU Junior Grand Prix YouTube channel.

Dillon Judge – SP/FS

Sophia Tkacheva – SP/FS

Laura Hegarty/Kevin Hegarty – RD/FD

Irish Figure Skaters Poland Bound For ISU Junior Grand Prix

Dillon Judge (Men), Sophia Tkacheva (Women) and Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty (Ice Dance) take to competitive ice this weekend (29 September – 1 October) as they line up for the Solidarity Cup in Gdansk, Poland, a part of this season’s ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating.Last month Judge participated in the Junior Grand Prix held in Courchevel, France where he finished in 19th place. He is aiming to build on his performance there.“Since my last competition, I have been working on improving my spin consistency as it was an area that required work,” Judge said. “My goal for this competition is to improve the average spin levels and Grades of Execution.”Tkacheva returns to the Junior Grand Prix circuit after making her debut last season. She finished 7th at last month’s Britannia Cup in Sheffield, United Kingdom. She is currently coached by two-time European medallist Kevin van der Perren and eleven-time British champion Jenna McCorkell.“From my last competition, I’ve been working on consistency of jumps in my program and trying out new spins,” Tkacheva said. “Since the regulations changed this season, I’ve tried various combinations through trial and error, and I was able to find the right spins for both my programmes in time for the JGP in Gdansk.

“My goals for this competition are to skate my programmes to my fullest abilities and to present what I’ve been working on. This will be my second time skating my new short programme in competition, so I’m really looking forward to that and my free as well.”The Hegarty siblings made history for Irish skating when they became the first ice dance team to represent Ireland in an international competition at the Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel, France last month. They have set their sights on skating even better this weekend in Poland.“Our main initiative was to improve our stamina and our elements,” Laura Hegarty said. “We hope to achieve cleaner elements.”“We have been working on polishing our elements, endurance and overall performance,” Kevin Hegarty said. “Our goal is to do as well as we can.”The ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series features skaters aged 13 to 19 (21 for male Ice Dance and Pair Skating partners) from all over the world. The 2022/2023 season marks the 25th edition of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating that was introduced in 1997. This season more than 300 skaters from over 50 different nations are expected to compete in the series. Ireland has been represented on the series since 2008.This week’s Solidarity Cup Junior Grand Prix in Gdansk, Poland will be broadcast live on the ISU’s dedicated YouTube channel. Direct links for each of the segments are as follows:Women’s Short Programme (29 September)Men’s Short Programme (29 September)Ice Dance Rhythm Dance (30 September)Women Free Skating (30 September)Men Free Skating (1 October)Ice Dance Free Dance (1 October)The conversation about the series can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure hashtag on social media.

O’Brien Races To 25th At Short Track Euros

Irish short track speed skater Liam O’Brien (22) has finished in 25th place overall on his debut at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland (22-24 January). Read more