Posts

Despite Adversity Irish Ice Skating Forged Ahead In 2021

The pandemic continued to disrupt activities in 2021 both on and off the ice, but Irish ice skating has also displayed its resilience throughout the past 12 months.

In January, it was announced that unfortunately the Irish National Figure Skating Championships would not take place in 2021. At the end of the month, Liam O’Brien made his debut in an Irish racing suit at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland where he placed 25th overall. This was the highest ever placement for an Irish short track speed skater at an ISU Championships.

O’Brien raced again at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in March in Dordrecht, the Netherlands. His overall championship classification of 29th was the highest placement ever by an Irish skater in the history of the event and also secured two spots for Ireland in the men’s category at the 2022 Championships.

In May, O’Brien was also the recipient of an Olympic Federation of Ireland Beijing 2022 Individual Performance Support award.

Eight figure skaters and six speed skaters were named to the National Team in July.

After the cancellation of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in 2020, Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva were finally able to make their debuts in the series back in September in Kosice, Slovakia. Towards the end of the month, Conor Stakelum participated in the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, the final qualifying competition for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where he finished 29th. An EGM and an AGM were both held virtually during the month.

Judge return to the Junior Grand Prix circuit in October where he was joined by Elizabeth Golding to compete in the final stage of the series in Linz, Austria. In the middle of the month, Sam McAllister returned to the ice for the first time in over a year and finished 11th at the Budapest Trophy in Hungary. Sean McAnuff and Liam O’Brien got to try out Olympic ice at the test event in Beijing, China which was the first of four World Cup competition to decide quota places for the Games. The Irish short track speed skaters travelled to Nagoya, Japan the following week for the second World Cup.

November began with a team of five Irish figure skaters competing at the Tayside Trophy in Dundee, Scotland. Robyn Foster made her international debut for Ireland in the Junior Women’s category where she finished seventh with Tkacheva in tenth. Judge was second in the Junior Men’s event with Stakelum and McAllister tenth and eleventh respectively in the Senior Men’s division. O’Brien was back racing in the third World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary and was joined for the fourth in Dordrecht, the Netherlands by Ryan McAnuff. At the end of the month, it was announced that sadly the Emerald Skate learn to skate courses would be postponed for a second consecutive year.

McAllister, Stakelum and Judge rounded out the year at the Santa Claus Cup in Budapest, Hungary in December. The announcement of the selection of McAllister to represent Ireland at the 2022 ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia early next year was also made during the month.

While the pandemic is still an ongoing concern as we head into the New Year and the health and safety of our members remains our priority, the ISAI is hopeful that 2022 will see a resumption of our normal activities.

 

Irish Skaters Make Strides At Tayside Trophy

A five-strong team of Irish figure skaters competed over the weekend at the Tayside Trophy in Dundee, Scotland (6-7 November).

First to take to the ice was Sophia Tkacheva in the Junior Women’s Short Programme who skated last weekend in the Tirnavia Ice Cup in Slovakia. She attempted a double Axel, a double Lutz-double toe loop and a double flip in her routine and also executed a Level 4 change foot combination spin. She scored 28.23 points to put herself in ninth place.

Robyn Foster followed Tkacheva in the same category in her debut event representing Ireland. She tried a double Axel, a triple Salchow jump combination and a double flip and her change foot combination spin was also graded Level 4. At the end of the short, Foster was a whisker ahead of Tkacheva in eighth place on 28.24 points.

In the Junior Women’s Free Skating the next day, Tkacheva appeared first skating to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi. She opened with a triple Salchow attempt and also included three jump combinations in her programme. She received a score of 51.07 points for a total of 79.30 which left her in tenth place in the final standings.

“Today wasn’t my best skate for sure and I made some silly mistakes,” Tkacheva said. “I am happy that I attempted my triple Salchow. I just need to learn to combine the hard jumps and the doubles and to stay focused no matter what happens during the programme and to work on my elements overall.”

Foster skated right after Tkacheva and commenced with a double Axel attempt and she also successfully landed a second one later on in her routine to “Scheherazade” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Two of her spins were deemed Level 3 by the technical panel and she posted a free score of 63.38 which moved her up into seventh overall with a total of 91.62 points.

“It was a really good experience to skate for Ireland,” Foster said. “Even though I made some mistakes, I got a personal best, so I know there is so much more room for improvement next time. I’m going to work on being more confident with my Axels and enjoying my programmes to the fullest.”

Dillon Judge was the sole Irish entrant in the Junior Men’s category. In the short programme, he started with a triple salchow-double toe loop combination and went on to land a double Axel and a double flip. He was awarded a score of 38.81 which was a new personal best and had him in second place overnight.

Judge performed to a medley of Jamie Callum songs for his free skating and he opened with a solo triple Salchow which he followed with a double Axel. He also tried to go for a triple Salchow combination later on in the routine and his step sequence was given a Level 3. A free score of 57.87 gave him a total of 96.68 and he maintained his second place in the standings.

“The short programme went very well,” Judge said. “The only slight error was the combo spin where I stumbled, so the next time I’ll improve on that. In the free skating there were quite a few errors which I’m not the most happy with, but the highlight of the programme was the double Axel because I showed the quality of what I can do. Next time I hope that I can improve the consistency of the jumps throughout the programme.”

Conor Stakelum and Sam McAllister were the final two Irish skaters in action as they lined up in the Senior Men’s event. Stakelum was the first to skate in the short programme. He doubled a planned triple loop, but came back with a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination and a double Axel. Two of his spins received Level 4 and he scored 49.05 to place ninth in the segment.

McAllister took to the ice in the following group of skaters and began with a triple flip before attempting a triple Lutz combination. He also landed a double Axel and two spins in his routine got a Level 4 from the technical panel. A score of 45.25 left him in 12th place going into the free skating.

Skating to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film soundtrack, McAllister was first to perform in the free skating. He started with a triple Lutz and a double Axel and then went on to attempt a double Axel-triple toe loop combination, a triple Salchow and a triple Lutz sequence among other elements. He achieved Level 4 for both a flying sit spin and a change foot combination spin and garnered 87.33 points for the free which gave him a total of 132.58 and 11th place overall.

“I had a good start in the free today, McAllister said. “It’s still only my second competition since the whole pandemic began. I’m looking forward to getting out there again at my next event in Poland later this month.”

Stakelum was the final Irish skater to take to the ice at the Tayside Trophy. He performed his free to “Riverdance” by Bill Whelan and embarked with triple flip and triple loop attempts. He landed a triple Salchow and a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination midway through the routine and also was given Level 4 for his flying sit spin and change foot combination spin. He scored 91.11 points for the free which meant he had a total of 140.16 and final placement of tenth.

“I was a bit disappointed with my short programme, missing things that are quite easy for me,” Stakelum said. “Although the free skating had a lot of messy elements, it’s the hardest programme I have ever gone for and landed my flip. There are lots of positives to take forward and I just need to polish things up now.”

Eight Figure Skaters For 2021/2022 National Team

The Board of Directors of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) have selected eight figure skaters to the ISAI National Team for the 2021/2022 season.

The following ISAI members have been chosen to represent Ireland on the international stage at International Skating Union (ISU) events:

Senior Men – Sam McAllister

Senior Men – Conor Stakelum

Junior Ladies – Adare Condon

Junior Ladies – Dracy Condon

Junior Ladies – Robyn Foster

Junior Ladies – Elizabeth Golding

Junior Ladies – Sophia Tkacheva

Junior Men – Dillon Judge

Sam McAllister is the 2019 and 2020 Senior National champion. From Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, he is coached by Margaret O’Neill in Nottingham and Sheffield, England. This will be his sixth season as a National Team member.

“My goals for this season are to finally show my new programmes at an ISU event and get back to safely competing,” McAllister said.

Conor Stakelum is a five-time Senior National champion. A native of Dublin, he trains in Dundee, Scotland with Simon and Debi Briggs. He represented Ireland at three consecutive European Championships (2018-2020).

“My goal for this season is to enjoy the opportunity to get back out there and compete and to show the improvements I have made with the extra time to train this past year,” Stakelum said.

Adare Condon placed fourth in the Junior Ladies event at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships. She trains under Megan Doyle and Tracy Doyle in Elmsford, New York. This is her second season as a member of the Irish National team.

“After a year of being fortunate to continue my training but not competing, my goals for this season are to be able to travel and successfully compete internationally for Ireland,” Adare said. “I plan on including a lot of creative choreography and triple jumps and combinations into my new programmes.”

Dracy Condon is the Junior Ladies bronze medallist at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships. She practices alongside her sister in New York City and is also named for a second season as a member of the Irish National team.

“My goals for this upcoming season are to continue to train hard and improve upon all facets of my skating and make it to the podium as much as possible,” Dracy said. “I want to skate faster, with more strength, and to improve upon my presence on the ice. I’m looking forward to performing well to the new music (excerpts from the Phantom of the Opera) I’ve selected for this upcoming season.”

Robyn Foster trains in Coventry, England under Marina Serova and this will be her second season on the Irish National team.

“I want to become a well rounded skater,” Foster said. “I want to work on the consistency of my triples and keep enjoying my training.”

Elizabeth Golding finished second in the Junior Ladies event at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships. She divides her training time between Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Moscow, Russia. In 2019, she represented Ireland at ISU Junior Grand Prix events in Latvia and Italy.

Sophia Tkacheva is the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships Junior Ladies champion. From Gorey, County Wexford, she trains on ice in Northern Ireland and Minsk, Belarus. This is her third season on the ISAI National Team.

“In this season, I hope to achieve consistency in my triple jumps and improve my other elements,” Tkacheva said. “I’m looking forward to having a new free programme and I do hope that nothing will get in the way of my training and competitions this season!”

Dillon Judge won the Junior Men’s national title at the Irish Figure Skating Championships in 2020. Born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, he trains in Sheffield, England.

You can learn more about our national team members here.

Eight Figure Skaters Named To 2020/2021 ISAI National Team

The Board of Directors of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) have selected eight figure skaters to the ISAI National Team for the 2020/2021 season.

The following ISAI members have been chosen to represent Ireland on the international stage at International Skating Union (ISU) events:

Senior Men – Sam McAllister

Senior Men – Conor Stakelum

Junior Ladies – Adare Condon

Junior Ladies – Dracy Condon

Junior Ladies – Robyn Foster

Junior Ladies – Elizabeth Golding

Junior Ladies – Sophia Tkacheva

Junior Men – Dillon Judge

Sam McAllister retained his Senior National title in February this year. From Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, he is coached by Margaret O’Neill in Nottingham and Sheffield, England. This will be his fifth season as a National Team member.

Conor Stakelum is a five-time Senior National champion. A native of Dublin, he trains in Dundee, Scotland with Simon and Debi Briggs. He finished 34th at this year’s European Figure Skating Championships in Graz, Austria.

Adare Condon placed fourth in the Junior Ladies event at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships. She trains under Megan Doyle and Tracy Doyle in Elmsford, New York. This is her first season as a member of the Irish National team.

Dracy Condon is the Junior Ladies bronze medallist at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships. She practices alongside her sister in New York City and is also a debut member of the Irish National team.

Robyn Foster competed at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships in February for the first time, but had to withdraw due to injury after the short programme. She trains in Coventry, England under Marina Serova and this will be her first season skating for Ireland.

Elizabeth Golding finished second in the Junior Ladies event at the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships. She divides her training time between Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Moscow, Russia. In 2019, she represented Ireland at ISU Junior Grand Prix events in Latvia and Italy.

Sophia Tkacheva is the 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships Junior Ladies champion. From Gorey, County Wexford, she trains on ice in Northern Ireland and Minsk, Belarus. This is her second season on the ISAI National Team.

Dillon Judge won his first Junior Men’s national title at the Irish Figure Skating Championships in February. Born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, he trains in Sheffield, England.

You can learn more about our national team members here.