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Historic Weekend For Irish Short Track At Gdansk Euros

Sean McAnuff and Liam O’Brien took Irish short track speed skating to new heights at this weekend’s European Championships in Gdansk, Poland.

Racing at the Hala Olivia arena began on Friday with the qualification rounds. O’Brien lined up in Heat 3 of the 1500 metres quarterfinals in which he finished fourth in a time of 2:26.961. McAnuff appeared in Heat 7 and placed sixth with a time of 2:27.128. Both would have a second shot in the repechage the following day.

McAnuff took to the ice next in Heat 1 of the 500 metres heats. He fought hard in what was a tough race originally crossing the line in third. However, an athlete ahead of him was disqualified and McAnuff’s result was revised giving him second place and an automatic berth in Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinals. This was a first for an Irish skater at a European Championships. In Heat 9 O’Brien finished third in a time of 43.457 which put him in the repechage the following morning.

The first day of racing concluded for Team Ireland with the 1000 metres heats. McAnuff started in Heat 4 and ended in fourth place with a time of 1:33.028 giving him another opportunity in the repechage on Sunday. Unfortunately for O’Brien, he was penalised in Heat 8 and would take no further part in the distance.

The second day of competition commenced with the 1500 metres repechage quarterfinals. O’Brien comfortably won Heat 2 in a time of 2:24.948 to advance to the next round. McAnuff went in Heat 4 and just missed out on joining O’Brien as he came fourth in a time 2:36.623.

O’Brien came back for the 1500 metres repechage semifinals knowing he needed a win and nothing less to secure a spot in the afternoon’s 1500 metres semifinals. In a nail biting finish, he crossed the line in 2:31.135 a mere 0.014 seconds ahead of the second place athlete. Ireland would have not one, but two athletes in an afternoon session of a European Championships for the very first time.

It was a busy morning for O’Brien as he was back for the 500 metres repechage quarterfinals hoping to do the same as he did in the 1500 metres. However, he false started in Heat 5 and was disqualified.

O’Brien was drawn in Heat 2 of the 1500 metres semifinals. It proved to be a somewhat messy race and O’Brien was penalised bringing his racing at the championships to a slightly disappointing end. He came 22nd in the distance classification with McAnuff 32nd.

McAnuff was up in Heat 3 of the 500 metres quarterfinals and it was a swift race. He finished fifth in the heat with a time of 43.272. This put him in 19th in the distance classification which is the first time an Irish athlete has finished inside the Top 20 at a European Short Track Speed Skating Championships. O’Brien was 42nd overall.

There was just the 1000 metres repechage quarterfinals left for McAnuff on the final day of the championships. He raced in Heat 5 where he wound up third in a time of 1:42.339 and just missed out on advancing any further. His distance classification was 31st with O’Brien’s 43rd.

“This year’s European Championships were so much fun,” McAnuff said. “I got to engage with and enjoy the company of so many athletes. There was a great atmosphere of supporting one another and encouragement between smaller countries.

“I felt I came back after last season refreshed and with a whole new enjoyment of the sport. I was very pleased with my outcome finishing with the best results of my career, in the 500 metres. I have been training hard off the ice for the last eight months and my coaches and I saw a huge improvement from focusing on these aspects of training. I’m looking forward to future competitions and pushing beyond my limits.”

“The competition definitely had its highs and lows,” O’Brien said. “Qualification didn’t go as planned, but I was happy to bounce back in the repechage on Saturday and make it through to the semifinals in the 1500 metres. In the semi, I thought I was a bit unfortunate to get penalised, but that’s racing. Overall, there was a lot to come out of the competition and take into future races.”

“Sean has delivered his best performance to date at a European Championships,” team leader Karen O’Sullivan said. “His 19th place finish in the 500 metres has to be satisfying for him and the training he has committed to over the season. It will spur him on to improving on this result at his next competition. World Cup 5 in Dresden, Germany in a couple of weeks. After his race this morning he expressed the target of a 16th place in Dresden in the 500 metres.

“The results were not what Liam was hoping for at this championships,” O’Sullivan said. “However, he goes back to his training centre with renewed motivation. This has been a learning championships for Liam and he has shown great mental strength throughout the weekend. His races on Saturday showed us what he is capable of into the future.

“Overall, both competitors did well and have exceeded previous results of Irish athletes at these championships in the past.”

McAnuff and O’Brien Fly The Flag For Ireland At Short Track Euros

Sean McAnuff (25) and Liam O’Brien (24) line up this weekend (13-15 January) representing Ireland in the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland.The Irish skaters will be among a field of over 130 athletes from 25 countries racing for top honours at an event that was first held in 1997. Last year’s edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.McAnuff and O’Brien will begin the championships on Friday, 13 January with the qualifications rounds of the 500, 1000 and 1500 metres distances. Subsequent rounds, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will take place on Saturday, 14 January and Sunday, 15 January.

It will be the fourth appearance at Europeans for McAnuff and his first since 2020.

“It’s so great to be back at Europeans,” McAnuff said. “It sure hasn’t felt like three years since I raced in these Championships. I am very excited to line up against the best skaters in Europe. I look forward to skating to the best of my ability and having fun while doing it!”

O’Brien will feel right at home in the Hala Olivia arena as this is the venue where he made his European debut in 2021.

“It feels good to be back in Gdansk,” O’Brien said. “Last time I was here we were in the middle of the pandemic and not able to leave the hotel. This time I had the chance to get out and explore a bit of the city so I feel more relaxed going into the competition. I am hoping I can improve on my last European results off the back of World Cup 3 and 4.”

The ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships will be broadcast online on Eurosport and the ISU YouTube channel. Geographical restrictions may apply. The results of the championships can be followed on the event results page and on social media via the #ShortTrackSkating hashtag.

Irish Ice Skating Thrived In 2022 Reaching New Heights

Irish ice skating broke new ground in 2022 as activities largely resumed after pandemic restrictions were lifted.

The year began dramatically when Conor Stakelum stepped in at the last moment to compete in Tallinn, Estonia at his fourth European Figure Championships in January. He placed 3oth which was his highest placement ever at the event.

February saw figure skating national team members Adare Condon, Dracy Condon, Robyn Foster, Elizabeth Golding and Sam McAllister participate at international competitions across Europe.

In March, Elizabeth Golding became the first skater to represent Ireland at the European Youth Olympic Festival when the postponed edition in Vuokatti, Finland finally was held. She placed 26th.

Sean McAnuff and Liam O’Brien became the first skaters from Ireland to compete in the same category at an ISU World Championships when they raced at Short Track Speed Skating Worlds in Montreal, Canada in April. They finished 35th and 37th respectively. The same month Dillon Judge, Robyn Foster and Sophia Tkacheva all placed inside the top ten at the Kurbada Cup in Riga, Latvia, while Sam McAllister claimed a silver medal at the Triglav Trophy in Jesenice, Slovenia. Amidst all of that, the Irish Winter Sports National Governing Bodies, including the Ice Skating Association of Ireland, together with the Olympic Federation of Ireland launched the Irish Winter Sports Strategy.

The 2021/2022 season concluded with the Irish Figure Skating Championships held for the first time since 2020. The Dundee Ice Arena hosted the competition over two days with Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty crowned the first ever champions in the Junior Ice Dance event. Sam McAllister and Dillon Judge both won third national titles in their respective categories, while Robyn Foster picked up her first national title.

In July, Conor Stakelum announced his retirement following a career where among other achievements he made history by becoming the first Irish male skater to participate at a European Figure Skating Championships. Among the 2022/2023 figure skating national team members selected were Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty, another first for Irish ice dance.

Ireland fielded its largest ever team at an ISU Junior Grand Prix with Dillon Judge (Men), Robyn Foster (Women) and Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty (Ice Dance) taking to the ice in Courchevel, France at the end of August. The Hegartys also became the first ever ice dance team to represent Ireland at an ISU event. The same weekend Sam McAllister took a bronze medal at the Britannia Figure Cup in Sheffield.

Sophia Tkacheva joined Dillon Judge and Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty in Gdansk, Poland for Team Ireland’s second designated ISU Junior Grand Prix of the season in late September.

In October, Sam McAllister, Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva were back at the Dundee Ice Arena for Tayside Trophy. Both Judge and Tkacheva posted a new set of season bests, while McAllister collected valuable ISU World Ranking points in coming fifth in his event.

Emerald Skate Learn To Skate lessons returned in November with courses held at Dundrum On Ice. Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva rounded out 2022 by competing at the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany. The ISAI Annual General Meeting was held virtually on 30 November and a new Board of Directors was elected.

The final month of 2022 began in spectacular style with an Ice Parade of Nations held at Dundrum On Ice to celebrate the inaugural World Ice Skating Day on 4 December. Liam O’Brien participated in back to back World Cups in Almaty, Kazakhstan setting a new national record in the 1000 metres and also becoming the first Irish short track speed skater to qualify for a World Cup semi-final.

2022 has been a landmark year for Irish ice skating with new heights achieved across a range of disciplines. The ISAI looks forward to making 2023 an even better year with the continued cooperation of all our stakeholders.

2023 Short Track And Figure Euros Teams Named

January 2023 will be a busy month with Ireland represented at both Short Track Speed Skating and Figure Skating European Championships.

Sean McAnuff and Liam O’Brien will race at Short Track Europeans between 13-15 January at the Hala Olivia in Gdansk, Poland. McAnuff finished 35th at the World Championships in Montreal, Canada back in April. It will be his fourth appearance at Europeans.

“I am really excited to compete the upcoming European Championships as it will be my first time in Poland,” McAnuff said. “I took most of this past year off to relax and reflect on why I would like to continue to pursue a career in speed skating. I came to the conclusion going into this competition I find it rewarding to achieve goals I set out for myself. I want to strive to race to the best of my ability and encourage other to do the same while strengthening friendships to be more involved in the skating community.”

O’Brien has had a great season so far. In back to back outings at World Cups in Almaty, Kazakhstan, he set a new national record in the 1000 metres and also became the first Irish skater to race in a World Cup semi-final at any distance.

“I’m excited to get the opportunity to race at Europeans,” O’Brien said. “I can’t wait to head back to Poland where I skated my first competition and previous European Championships for Ireland. I hope to build on the performance from World Cup 4 and aim towards the championship main event.”

After missing out on the previous two editions through cancellation and illness respectively, Sam McAllister makes his European debut at the Metro Areena in Espoo, Finland with the championships taking place 23-29 January. He will become only the third skater to represent Ireland at the event since it began back in 1891.

“I am beyond excited and ready for Europeans,” McAllister said. “I have never travelled to Finland before so I’m looking forward to also visiting a new country. I am planning to go and enjoy this event and gain more experience.”

ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2023 – Gdansk, Poland (13-15 January)

Men: Sean McAnuff, Liam O’Brien

ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2023 – Espoo, Finland (23-29 January)

Men: Sam McAllister

Breakthrough For O’Brien At Almaty World Cup

This weekend saw Liam O’Brien take Irish short track speed skating to new heights at the World Cup in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

O’Brien opened his second World Cup at the Halyk Arena with the 1500 metres quarterfinals where he lined up in Heat 1. He was racing well until he was impeded by another skater and crossed the line in fifth place with a modest time of 2:55.108. However, he subsequently was advanced to the semi-finals the following afternoon. He also participated in the 500 metres (2) heats where he came fourth in Heat 1 with no time recorded.

On the afternoon of the second day of competition, O’Brien took his place in Heat 2 of the 1500 metres semi-finals, making history for Ireland in the process. No Irish short track speed skater had ever competed in an ISU World Cup semi before. He raced valiantly finishing in 6th place and just missed out on qualifying for the B Final in a time of 2:17.986.

O’Brien closed his racing in Almaty with the repechage quarterfinals of the 500 metres (2) event. Despite posting a new personal best time of 42.212 in Heat 3, he just missed out on advancing to the repechage semi-finals by one place.

“The last two World Cups I’ve learnt a lot and will take it all into training for the upcoming competitions,” O’Brien said. “I am happy to have set new personal bests and my first top 20 at a World Cup event. I hope to there in the semi-finals once again this season and continue to improve on my results.”

O’Brien Set For Second Kazakhstan World Cup

Liam O’Brien had contrasting fortunes at last weekend’s ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Almaty, Kazakhstan, but he is back on the ice for another round of racing at this weekend’s World Cup in the same venue.

O’Brien started auspiciously last week by breaking the Irish national record for the 1000 metres with a time of 1:26.378. However, in the 1500 metres (2) event he crashed out in Heat 3 which put a premature ending to the competition for him.

O’Brien is scheduled to line up this weekend in the 500 metres (2) and 1500 metres with competition beginning tomorrow (16 December) with subsequent rounds on Saturday (17 December) and Sunday (18 December).

The World Cup can be viewed live on the ISU YouTube channel and followed via the #ShortTrackSkating hashtag on social media.

O’Brien Back On Track For Kazakhstan World Cup

Liam O’Brien is back to racing this weekend at the first of two World Cup Short Track Speed Skating events in Almaty, Kazakhstan (9-11 December).

O’Brien will race over 1000 and 1500 metre distances to try to advance from the qualifying rounds which will be held on Friday through to the subsequent rounds on Saturday and Sunday. This will be the first time he suits up for Ireland since the World Championships in April this year.

“I am excited to race again this season at the World Cup this weekend,” O’Brien said. “I am hoping to go out there and race strong and see how I fare against my competitors.”

The World Cup can be viewed live on the ISU YouTube channel and followed via the #ShortTrackSkating hashtag on social media.

 

 

Trio of Speed Skaters for 2022/2023 Irish Team

Three speed skaters have been selected to represent Ireland in international competitions for the 2022/2023 season.

Ryan McAnuff has been listed to the National Team for the seventh consecutive season. During the past season while training and competing, he also graduated from medical school at the University of Limerick.

“I am very excited to once again be named to the Irish National Short Track Speed Skating Team,” Ryan McAnuff said. “This off-season has allowed me to reset mentally and physically, while still training very hard. I will proudly represent Ireland this season with a major goal being to continue to close the gap between myself and the top skaters in world. Another goal of mine is to work on my race tactics and try new track patterns and strategies during practice and racing.”

Like his brother Ryan, Sean McAnuff is on the National Team again for the seventh time in a row. He placed 35th at the 2022 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Montreal, Canada. Since December 2020, he has been training in Budapest, Hungary.

“I have really enjoyed an extended rest for my body since the World Championships this past April,” Sean McAnuff said. “I am looking forward to getting back to training and continuing to develop my technique, endurance and confidence in racing. I will strive to make a positive impact on the athletes and other I connect with in the sport world, encouraging them along their journey. I have really enjoyed this aspect of skating over the past few years, as I notice that is a huge motivational component for so many speed skaters!”

Liam O’Brien has been selected for the National Team for the fourth time. Earlier this year, he finished 37th at the 2022 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland and just missed out an 2022 Beijing Olympic quota spot in the 1500 metres. He currently trains in Seongnam, Republic of Korea.

“Last season unfortunately did not go as planned and I had to deal with many ups and downs with injuries and with COVID,” O’Brien said. “In the coming season I hope to be challenging the top skaters in all events and pushing into the main round at World Cup and Championship events.”

National Team Members (Short Track Speed Skating):

Senior Men – Ryan McAnuff (County Antrim/County Derry/County Fermanagh), Sean McAnuff (County Antrim/County Derry/County Fermanagh), Liam O’Brien (County Cavan/County Leitrim/County Mayo)

You can learn more about our national team members here.

McAnuff 35th; O’Brien 37th at Short Track Worlds

Sean McAnuff (24) and Liam O’Brien (23) have concluded their seasons at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Montreal, Canada where they finish 35th and 37th respectively in the overall classification. This was the first time Ireland fielded two skaters in the same category at an ISU World Championships.

Racing began for the two Irish men with the opening day qualifying rounds. First up were the 1500 metres quarterfinals. O’Brien came fourth in Heat 4 in a time of 2:22.931. while McAnuff was fifth with a time of 2:24.441 in Heat 6.

Next up were the 500 metres preliminaries. McAnuff raced in Heat 8 where he came fourth in 42.475 and was followed by O’Brien in Heat 9 who also ended up fourth in a time of 43.549.

The final distance on the opening day were the 1000 metres preliminaries. Unfortunately, O’Brien picked up a penalty in Heat 5. McAnuff wound up fourth in Heat 8 (1:27.595).

The Irish skaters lined up for two ranking finals on Day Two. McAnuff appeared in Heat 2 of the 1500 metres and finished sixth in a closely fought race in 2:26.229. O’Brien was next on the track in Heat 3 and took fourth in 2:29.668. O’Brien finished 25th and McAnuff 34th overall in the distance.

For the 500 metres preliminaries ranking finals, McAnuff and O’Brien were both drawn in Heat 2. Although O’Brien received a penalty, McAnuff had his best finish of the championships by placing second in a time of 43.243. McAnuff ranked 35th and O’Brien 37th for the distance.

The last day of the championships saw just McAnuff in action in the 1000 metres preliminaries ranking finals. He came third in Heat 3 with a time of 1:32.192 and was classified 31st for the distance. O’Brien ranked 44th.

“I think this has been the most successful weekend of my skating career thus far,” McAnuff said. “I was able to accomplish each goal I set, as well as reconnect and enjoy the company of fellow skaters that I have met over the years. It was refreshing, yet inspiring to finish off this Olympic season back in Canada at Maurice Richard. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have raced this weekend, but I am certainly looking forward to the season of rest ahead!”

“The competition didn’t go as planned after receiving penalties in both the 500 and 1000 metres,” O’Brien said. “However, it was great to have crowds back at racing and have an atmosphere in the ice rink. I’m glad that this season has come to an end as it was full of ups and downs and time for some much needed rest.”

 

McAnuff and O’Brien On Track For Historic Worlds

This weekend Ireland’s Sean McAnuff (24) and Liam O’Brien (23) close out their season at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Montreal, Canada which had originally been scheduled for last month. This marks the first time that the Ice Skating Association of Ireland fields two athletes in the same category at an ISU World Championships.

McAnuff and O’Brien will be among over 119 skaters from 27 countries participating in the annual event. They will first race on Friday (8 April) in the qualifying rounds for the 500, 1000 and 1500 metre distances with further rounds taking place over the following two days.

McAnuff will be racing for the first time since his season was interrupted in November last year with a bout of Covid-19 causing him to miss out on the final two Olympic qualifying World Cups. He previously competed at Worlds back in 2019.

“With the difficulties of Covid in the prior season, and the postponement of the World Championships this season, many of us have had to sacrifice other areas of our personal lives to try and avoid compromising our skating goals,” McAnuff said. “Now that the end of the season is here, I really want to bring a fun and light hearted atmosphere to this competition, while bringing joy to the sport we all started because of our love for it! One goal for me is encouraging this kind of environment. I think it is important to remember we can’t all take home a gold medal, but we can all take away an experience that fosters our passion for the sport rather than an experience that burns us out.”

By placing 29th at last year’s Worlds, O’Brien qualified two spots for Ireland this time round in the men’s event in Montreal. He continued his good form this season at the World Cups last autumn and agonisingly missed out on securing a quota spot at the Beijing Olympics in the 1500 metres by just one place.

“I am looking forward to getting out there and racing at the weekend for the first time since the World Cups back in November,” O’Brien said. “I hope to improve on last season’s World Championships results and my performance at this season’s World Cup series.”

The World Short Track Speed Skating Championships will be broadcast online in Ireland on the Eurosport Player (paid subscription required) and the ISU YouTube channel. McAnuff and O’Brien will start their campaigns inside the Maurice Richard Arena tomorrow afternoon (8 April) Irish time.

The results of the championships can be followed on the event results page and on social media via the #WorldShortTrack and #ShortTrackSkating hashtags.