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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.

Team Ireland Figure Skaters Kick Off Season At Courchevel Junior Grand Prix

The first ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Courchevel, France this weekend provided a showcase for Ireland’s largest ever team to be fielded in this series.

Robyn Foster (18) was the first member of Team Ireland to take to ice at the Patinoire du Forum on the opening day of competition in the Junior Women’s short programme. The Irish Junior national champion attempted a double Axel to start and also included a double flip-double toe loop combination and a double loop in her routine to “A Time For Us” by Nino Rota. She scored 33.03 points to sit in 24th place overnight.

The following evening Foster was back for the free skating. Once more she attempted a double Axel to start and followed that up with a cleanly landed double Axel-double toe loop combination. A flying sit spin received a Level 4 from the technical panel and she earned a segment score of  58.75 points. Her combined total of 91.78 points saw her move up to finish in 23rd place.

“I’m happy that I didn’t give up and I persevered to land my double Axel, but I now know I definitely need to work on my spins and continue to make my triples strong enough to put in my programme,” Foster said. “The event itself was very well organised and I enjoyed being a part of it, especially getting to represent Ireland.”

Dillon Judge (18) was the veteran of the team as this was his second season on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. He performed in the Junior Men’s short programme on the first evening of competition and debuted his new routine to “Englishman In New York” by Sting. He nailed a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination to begin with and then attempted a triple loop, a new element for him this season. He also went for a double Axel and secured a new ISU personal best score of 35.10 to place 19th at the midway point of the competition.

Judge had a day’s break between the short and the free skating which took place earlier this morning. He attempted two triple Salchows (one on its own and one in combination) and two double Axels in his routine. Even though he had to fight for some of his elements, he worked as hard as he could right to the end. He posted a free skating score of 48.43 points which gave him a total of 83.53. He remained in 19th place.

There were lots of mistakes in the programmes which is to be expected at the start of the season, especially with a new programme,” Judge said. “However, during the short the jumps were good considering it was my first time attempting two triples in it increasing the technical difficulty.

“For the next Junior Grand Prix, I am going to work on my spin consistency within the programme as that was the main place I lost points.”

Laura Hegarty (16) and Kevin Hegarty (19) made history in Courchevel as they became the first ice dance team to represent Ireland at an international event. On the second day of competition, the siblings from Dublin skated in the rhythm dance to Sombrero Blanco (Flamenco) and Assassin’s Tango and included a diagonal step sequence, sequential twizzles and two sections of the Argentine Tango pattern in their routine. They scored 20.36 points which put them in 11th place at the end of the first segment of their category.

This afternoon Hegarty and Hegarty were back on the ice for the free dance. Skating to “Harem” by Sarah Brightman, they garnered Level 3 and Level 4 for their synchronised twizzles and also achieved Level 2 for a rotational lift later on in the programme. Their free dance score of 34.25 points improved on their personal best from the national championships in May and they kept 11th place with a total of 54.61.

“Although it was difficult to skate in such a high level competition, we performed to the best of our abilities,” Laura Hegarty said.

“Our main problem was endurance and stamina,” Kevin Hegarty said. “We plan to work on our cardio and overall strength for our Junior Grand Prix in Gdansk, Poland. We will try to improve our edges and general performance as well.”

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

Dillon Judge – SP/FS

Robyn Foster – SP/FS

Laura Hegarty/Kevin Hegarty – RD/FD

Ireland Fields Largest Team Ever At ISU Junior Grand Prix

Ireland will be represented in three different categories at an ISU Junior Grand Prix event for the first time ever with Dillon Judge (Men), Robyn Foster (Women) and Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty (Ice Dance) competing this weekend (25-27 August) in Courchevel, France.

Judge is the veteran of the team having participated in two Junior Grand Prix events last season. In May 2022, he captured his second Junior national title. He is coached by Margaret O’Neill.

“Last season on the JGP I learned how to perform under pressure at such a big event as it was my first season competing at that level,” Judge said. “My goal is to improve my short programme technical difficulty, by improving on my spin levels. Another goal of mine is to improve my short programme’s Programme Component Scores with my new routine.”

Foster is making her Junior Grand Prix debut this season. She claimed her first Junior national title in May 2022. She is currently coached by Marina Serova in Coventry, England.

“I feel privileged to get to skate at such an event represent Ireland and am looking forward to seeing and meeting some great skaters,” Foster said. “I want to skate how I know I can, with a smile on my face.”

The Hegarty siblings from Dublin continue to make history for Irish skating. This weekend they will become the first ice dancers to represent Ireland at a Junior Grand Prix event. They are the reigning Junior national champions.

“We are honoured to be able to represent our country and introduce ice dance as a new genre of figure skating in Ireland,” Laura Hegarty said. “We are looking forward to meeting skaters from other countries.”

“This is the first time to perform our new programmes for the rhythm and free dances in competition,” Kevin Hegarty said. “We hope we use this opportunity to improve our performance skills.”

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.

This week’s Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel, France 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 (25 August)

Men’s Short Programme (25 August)

Ice Dance Rhythm Dance (26 August)

Women Free Skating (26 August)

Men Free Skating (27 August)

Ice Dance Free Dance (27 August)

The conversation about the series can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure hashtag on social media.

Golding and Judge Round Out Junior Grand Prix Campaign

Irish skaters Elizabeth Golding and Dillon Judge have finished 33rd and 22nd in their respective events at the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Cup of Austria in Linz, Austria this weekend.

Judge was the first of the two Irish competitiors to take to the ice inside the Linz AG Eisarena. In the men’s short programme on Day One, he attempted a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination, a double Axel and a double flip and received a score of 32.75 for his routine.

The following evening Judge was back for the free skating. He began with a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination, a double Axel and a Level 3 flying sit spin. He also included solo triple Salchow and second double Axel attempts as well as two other jump combinations in his routine to a medley of songs by Jamie Callum. He scored 59.73 points for the free to give him an overall total of 92.48.

“It was only my second international competition in two years,” Judge said. “Physically I am getting stronger and it is great to be competing with some of the best in the world. I have learned a lot from my performances and watching those around me. It will help me and my coach plan for next year and the requirements to improve my scores and what my new routines will need.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my Junior Grand Prix experiences and the environment with being immersed in an event with people focused on showing the best skating has to offer.

“For the rest of the season I will be working on increasing my strength and stamina. I will also be working also on my jumps and spins.”

Two years had elapsed since the last time Golding competed at a Junior Grand Prix when she stepped on to the ice in Linz for the women’s short. She attempted a triple Salchow combination, a triple flip and a double Axel in her “Hip Hip Chin Chin” programme which she closed out with a Level 4 change foot combination spin. She earned a score of 25.16 points which had her sitting in 34th midway through the event.

In the free, Golding opened with triple Salchow-double toe loop combination, solo triple Salchow and triple toe loop attempts. She had both her change foot combination and layback spins graded Level 4 by the technical panel. A free score of 52.58 points gave her a final total of 77.74 and she moved up to finish in 33rd overall.

“My two performances this week were far from my best and I am nowhere near happy with them,” Golding said. “Coming out of a back injury I was healing from this summer was hard and I wasn’t able to train to my full capacity, but I never thought it would be this tough. It was a great experience and life lesson for me. I am learning to take the negatives out of situations and turning them into positives that I can work on.

“I am working on getting my jumps back to their normal state without hurting my back and overall working on being able to execute the jumps that I can do confidently in training under a stressful competition environment.”

Performance Videos

Elizabeth Golding Short Programme

Elizabeth Golding Free Skating

Dillon Judge Short Programme

Dillon Judge Free Skating

Golding And Judge Set For Final Junior Grand Prix

Elizabeth Golding (17) and Dillon Judge (17) represent Ireland this week at the final ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating for this season in Linz, Austria (7-9 October).

This is Golding’s third season on the Junior Grand Prix circuit and Linz is where she made her JGP debut back in 2018. She will take to the ice this Friday, 8 October just before noon Irish time in the Women’s Short Programme and again in the afternoon of Saturday, 9 October in the Women’s Free Skating.

“My goals for the JGP this year are to perform cleanly (with regard to spins, step sequences and transitions) and to show good attempts of the new triple jumps I have learnt this year, as well as get the minimum scores for Worlds,” Golding said.

Judge made his JGP debut last month in Kosice, Slovakia where he finished in 21st place. He performs tomorrow evening Thursday, 7 October in the Men’s Short Programme and will be back the following evening Friday, 8 October for the Men’s Free Skating.

“I lost some significant points due to small errors at the JGP in Slovakia,” Judge said. “Using the feedback received from the judges, my coach Margaret (O’Neill) and I have used this to help improve for my performance this week in Austria.”

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 2021/2022 season marks the 24th 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 have competed in the series.

This week’s Junior Grand Prix in Linz, Austria will be broadcast live on the ISU’s dedicated YouTube channel. Direct links for each of the segments are as follows:

Men’s Short Programme (7 September)

Women’s Short Programme (8 September)

Men’s Free Skating (8 September)

Women’s Free Skating (9 September)

The conversation about the series can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure hashtag on social media.

Judge and Tkacheva Make Most Of Maiden Junior Grand Prix

Irish skaters Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva have concluded their ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating debuts finishing 21st and 25th in their respective categories in Kosice, Slovakia.

Judge took to the ice at the Steel Arena on Day One of the event in the Men’s Short Programme. Skating to “Mack the Knife” performed by Bobby Darin, he attempted a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination, a double Axel and a triple flip. Despite a mishap on a flying sit spin, he managed to earn a new personal best score of 34.52 points leaving him in 22nd place overnight.

The following day, Judge was back to skate in the Free Skating segment of the competition. He opened with a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination, a double Axel and this time round successfully completed a flying sit spin. He also included solo triple Salchow and second double Axel attempts as well as two other jump combinations in his routine to a medley of songs by Jamie Callum. He scored another personal best of 62.99 points for the free to give him a total of 97.51 points to move up one spot in the overall standings.

“It was great being surrounded by some of the best Junior skaters in the world,” Judge said. “It gave me the opportunity to see how they perform close up and take away some ideas which will help me improve. It was great being in an environment where everyone was passionate about ice skating.

“I have learnt from this performance that I need to work harder on elements. I lost some significant points due to small errors. Using the feedback received from the judges, my coach Margaret and I will use this to help improve for my next performance.”

Tkacheva made her Junior Grand Prix debut in the Women’s Short Programme on the evening of Day One. She began her programme with a double Axel and a double Lutz-double toe loop jump combination. Both a flying sit spin and a change foot combination spin were graded Level 4 by the technical panel. She received a new personal best score of 32.00 points which saw her in 25th place at the midway stage of the competition.

After a day’s break between the short and free, Tkacheva returned to the ice on Day Three. Performing to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi, she attempted three jump combinations in her routine as well as a double Axel. She once again secured Level 4 for a change foot combination spin and posted another personal best score of 49.07 points for the free. She finished with a total of 81.07 points.

“My experience at my first JGP was unforgettable,” Tkacheva said. “I made some mistakes which gives me something to work on for the rest of the season. The atmosphere of the Grand Prix was incredible and being able to participate in a competition where people come from all over the world is something I will always remember.

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens to go for every element and to learn from any mistakes. It’s also very important to enjoy the experience of being at a competition like the JGP.”

Performance Videos

Dillon Judge Short Programme

Dillon Judge Free Skating

Sophia Tkacheva Short Programme

Sophia Tkacheva Free Skating

Judge And Tkacheva Line Up For Junior Grand Prix Debut

This week will finally mark the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating debuts for Dillon Judge (17) and Sophia Tkacheva (15) when they take to the ice at the Steel Arena in Kosice, Slovakia. They were also selected to represent Ireland last year in the series which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both skaters will compete tomorrow (2 September) in the first part of their respective events. In the morning, Judge is scheduled to perform at 11:38 Irish time in the Men’s Short Programme. Tkacheva will be in action later in the Women’s Short Programme at 18:54 Irish time. The Men’s Free Skating will take place on Friday afternoon (3 September), while the Women’s Free Skating will be held on Saturday afternoon (4 September)

Judge is looking forward to being back out on competitive ice again this week after the long break due to the pandemic.

“I want to give the best performance possible and improve on my Short and Free Programme scores from my last international competitions.”

For Tkacheva, preparations for this season have not been ideal due to the ever-changing restrictions, but she is hopeful that the competition will go well.

“I have been working very hard with my coaches for the last couple of months and I will present my new free programme.”

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 2021/2022 season marks the 24th 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.

This week’s Junior Grand Prix in Kosice, Slovakia will be broadcast live on the ISU’s dedicated YouTube channel. Direct links for each of the segments are as follows:

Men’s Short Programme (2 September)

Women’s Short Programme (2 September)

Men’s Free Skating (3 September)

Women’s Free Skating (4 September)

The conversation about the series can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure hashtag on social media.

Junior Grand Prix Beckons For Irish Trio

After the cancellation of last season’s ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this week marks its welcome return with the first event to be held in Courchevel, France. Three Irish skaters will compete in the series this season at subsequent stages in Kosice, Slovakia (1-4 September) and Linz, Austria (6-9 October).

Dillon Judge will be the sole representative for Ireland in the men’s category this season. The 2020 Junior National champion will finally be making his Junior Grand Prix debut after missing out last season. It was a challenging year for Judge who had to adjust to the ever changing restrictions in the United Kingdom where he is based.

“While the ice rinks were closed, I worked to keep my fitness up using a cross trainer and skipping,” he said. “I carried out a lot of off ice training working on jump rotation. This was done with my coach online and also by myself at home.

“In addition, I travelled with my coach to train in Hungary so that I could get back on the ice. When the rinks in UK opened, I returned and worked hard on improving my strength and fitness and practicing my routines.”

At his two assignments in Slovakia and Austria, Judge is ready to show all that he has worked on since he last competed.

“I want to give the best competitive performance possible and better my Short and Free Programme scores attained in my last international competitions.”

Like Judge, Sophia Tkacheva will also be making her long-awaited Junior Grand Prix debut in Slovakia at the beginning of September. She is eager to get back competing after the ups and downs and interruptions of the past year.

“I was very disappointed to hear that the JGP got cancelled last year as I trained a lot and was well prepared,” Tkacheva said. “This season is quite different. I had a long break since the country went under a lockdown and the ice rink was closed for almost six months. I did plenty of in-line skating but it is certainly not the same. I found it tough to stay off the ice for so long and I’m so happy to be back!

“I regret I haven’t gotten more time to get ready for my first JGP,  but I have been working very hard with my coaches for the last couple of months and I will present my new free programme. I will do my best and fingers crossed I will perform well.”

Tkacheva is looking forward to a return to normality this season so she can continue working on her technical progression.

“This season I will continue to work on my triple jumps. I hope there will be no more restrictions and my training schedule will not be affected as much as last season.”

Elizabeth Golding is the veteran of the trio with previous Junior Grand Prix experience in 2018 and 2019. She is eager to show what she has been practicing during the off season and will appear in the Junior Grand Prix in Austria in early October.

“In terms of my skating, I have been working on improving the quality of my programmes, working on getting those levels on my spins and step sequences, as well as adding choreography,” Golding said. “I have also been working hard on my triple jumps, and attempting to add them in my programmes.

“My goals for the JGP this year are to perform cleanly (with regard to spins, step sequences and transitions) and to show good attempts of the new triple jumps I have learnt this year, as well as get the minimum scores for Worlds.”

More than anything else, Golding is looking forward to getting back on the ice and compete.

“I am going to try to just enjoy myself!”

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 2021/2022 season marks the 24th 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.

The first of the seven stages will be held this week with live coverage available on the ISU’s dedicated YouTube channel. The conversation about the series can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure hashtag on social media.

Despite Junior Grand Prix Being Put On Ice, Irish Figure Skaters Look Ahead

This week was due to see the start of the 2020/2021 ISU (International Skating Union) Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating, but the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic has put paid to these competitions being held this season. Three Irish national team members selected to represent Ireland in the series are among the hundreds of figure skaters from all over the world affected by the cancellation.

Originally inaugurated in 1997, Ireland made its series debut in 2008 when Clara Peters competed at the Czech Skate Junior Grand Prix in Ostrava, Czech Republic. In fact, this marked the first appearance of an Irish ice skater at any international competition. Since then, Irish skaters who have participated at Junior Grand Prix events have gone on to compete at Junior World, European and World Figure Skating Championships.

This season three skaters – Elizabeth Golding, Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva – had been chosen by the Ice Skating Association of Ireland board of directors to take part in the series.

Judge and Tkacheva would have been making their Junior Grand Prix debut and both skaters were looking forward to flying the flag for Ireland at their respective events.

“When I got the email informing me that I was selected to represent Ireland at a Junior Grand Prix I was really excited,” Judge said.  “I knew my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Dublin would know and they would be expecting me to do the best for Ireland. I now had to ensure that the training I was doing resulted in the best performance.”

“I was delighted and honoured to be chosen to represent Ireland at such a big international event,” Tkacheva said.

On the other hand, this was the third season in which Golding was assigned a Junior Grand Prix event and she was looking forward to demonstrating her growth as a skater.

“It was a great privilege to be selected once again to represent Ireland on the Junior Grand Prix series, as I was excited to show all the new elements and new programs I have worked on in Russia over the past few months,” Golding said.

However, on 20 July the ISU announced that, due to COVID-19, this year’s series would be cancelled. After scrambling to arrange ice time because of the restrictions on the opening of training facilities and travel to various jurisdictions, the news came as somewhat of a let down following the excitement of being selected.

“I was disappointed, of course,” Tkacheva said. “We put so much effort in arranging my skating practice this summer. My mum was constantly in contact with embassies and figure skating camp organisers as things were not clear and we were not sure if we could make it.”

“Due to Covid-19 I travelled to Flims, Switzerland to train as the rinks in the U.K. were shut and, although we had a date for them re-opening, it was too close to the first Junior Grand Prix taking place for me to get enough training,” Judge said. “I was in Switzerland when I found out the Junior Grand Prix had been cancelled. I was absolutely gutted and very disappointed.”

“I felt disappointed, but I didn’t allow it to get to me as I know I have many new competitions ahead of me in the upcoming season where I will have a chance to perform and make Ireland proud,” Golding said putting a positive spin on things. “On the other hand, I felt a bit relieved. I was worried that I wouldn’t perform to my best ability due to the coronavirus situation as I only started training again on the ice in June.”

Over the summer months, all of the skaters have been toiling away on and off the ice despite the uncertainties they have faced.

“I was lucky to attend two figure skating camps in the Czech republic in July, where I had worked on my skating skills, jumps and spins,” Tkacheva said. “There were classic choreography and gymnastics classes. In addition, I spent two weeks in Minsk, Belarus in the Olympic figure skating school where I focused more on my programmes.”

“Whilst in Switzerland, I attended a training camp where I worked on skating skills and jumps,” Judge said. “I also used the patch ice as much as possible to hone my routines and practice. In the months prior to travelling to Switzerland with the rinks closed, I carried a lot training by myself and participated in a number of online classes including those put on by the ISU. I also had lessons with my coach online twice a week.”

“I have been working hard on my triple jumps, particularly triple flip and Lutz, as these are my favourites as well as the highest scoring jumps,” Golding said. “I am especially proud that I am able to practice all my triple jumps to my full potential as I have been working with a sports psychologist who has helped me get over my fear of doing certain jumps. Off the ice I have been working on my power and rotation position in my jumps, as well as training my endurance and stamina through circuit training, plyometric training and jogging every evening.”

With the Junior Grand Prix off the table for this season this least, all three skaters are looking ahead with other goals in mind.

“I want to work more on my triple jumps now, to improve my technique, and spend more time on stretching as this is the key for nice spins,” Tkacheva said. “I hope COVID restrictions will be eased soon, and I will be able to train as usual, and hopefully travel to Slovakia for intense practice in October.”

“My parents and I are also monitoring the COVID-19 situation to see if there are any competitions in safe countries going to take place,” Judge said. “I am also looking for other opportunities to attend training camps. Apart from that my coach and I will carry on with our normal training schedule.”

“My plans for the rest of the season are simple- train hard every day to finally get my triple jumps, and practice my new free programme and my old short programme, which now contains a triple lutz in it,” Golding said.