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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.

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