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.


Golding Breaks Records At Italian Junior Grand Prix

Elizabeth Golding (15) completed her second International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix assignment of the season today in Egna, Italy.

On the first day of competition, Golding skated her “Masquerade Waltz” short programme. She included double Axel, triple Salchow-double toe loop and double loop attempts in her routine which also featured a Level 4 combination spin. She scored 31.06 points which put her in 26th place halfway through the event.

The following day, the Irish Junior champion took to the ice at Wurth Arena for the free skating. She attempted two double Axels and a triple Salchow in the programme to a selection of music by Two Steps from Hell. She earned a score of 60.70 for the segment which gave her a total of 91.76. Both marks represent new Irish Junior records and moved her up to a 24th place finish.

Detailed Results

Short Programme (YouTube)

Free Skating (YouTube)

Golding Lines Up For Second Junior Grand Prix

Elizabeth Golding (15) participates in her second competition of the season at the International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Egna/Neumarkt in Egna, Italy (2-5 October).

This is the second year the Irish Junior champion takes her place on the circuit which features up and coming global figure skating talent and provides young skaters aged 13 to 19 with the opportunity to compete at a high international level.

2019 marks the 11th anniversary of Ireland’s first participation in the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating. The series started in 1997 and includes seven events which serve as qualifiers for the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in December.

Golding will compete on Friday 4 October in the short programme and Saturday 5 October in the free skating. Her performances will be broadcast live on the ISU’s YouTube channel. The event can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure and #FigureSkating hashtags across various social media platforms.

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