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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.

 

McAnuff and O’Brien Wrap Up At Final Short Track World Cup

Ryan McAnuff and Liam O’Brien brought this season’s World Cup odyssey for Ireland’s short track speed skaters across two continents and four events to a close at this weekend’s competition in Dordrecht, Netherlands.

Day One (25 November) began with the 1500m heats. McAnuff lined up in Heat 2 where he finished 6th in a time of 2:22.991. He was ranked 71st for the distance at this World Cup. There was plenty of drama in Heat 10 where there was a restart after a crash involving a number of skaters and in the rerun O’Brien was infringed upon by another athlete and promoted to third with a time 2:29.875. For the quarterfinals, O’Brien was drawn in Heat 4 where he came in 6th in a time of 2:17.135.

The 500m preliminaries were on the agenda for the afternoon of Day One and McAnuff raced in Heat 5 where he posted a time of 44.136 coming in fifth for a distance ranking of 76th. O’Brien rounded out the first day for Team Ireland by ending up third in a time of 43.128 in Heat 15. He was ranked 51st in the distance at this World Cup.

The Irish skaters were back on ice for Day Two (26 November) where they contested the 1000m preliminaries. Heat 12 saw McAnuff race to a fifth place finish in a time of 1:28.916 and placed 73rd for the distance. O’Brien crossed the line in Heat 15 with a time of 1:29.370 and was advanced to the next round. He finished fifth in Heat 5 of the 1000m heats in a time of 1:27.993.

O’Brien returned on Day Three (27 November) for the 1500m ranking finals. He raced in Heat 5 where he recorded a time of 2:17.322 for fifth place and five World Cup points. He was ranked in 40th place for the distance in Dordrecht.

O’Brien took to the ice for the last time on Day Four (28 November) for the 1000m ranking finals where he skated in Heat 2. He finished third in a time of 1:31.880 and placed 33rd for the distance which gave him 12 World Cup points and an overall classification of 57th.

“I’m really happy and thankful to be back racing this week,” McAnuff said. “Racing the top athletes in the world and competing at another international event and Olympic qualifier has been a great experience. I enjoyed myself and was proud of my performance. Balancing my final year of medical school and training is difficult, but worth it.”

“It’s been a long two months of racing between the Asian and European World Cups,” O’Brien said. “I am happy with my performance at my first World Cup series competing for Ireland and I hope to build on this base. This week I am happy that I was able to better my 1000m performance from the previous World Cups, but there is still a lot of work to be done.”

The final World Cup classification for the Irish short track speed skaters is as follows:

Ryan McAnuff – 500m (98th), 1000m (102nd), 1500m (101st)

Sean McAnuff – 500m (93rd), 1000m (99th), 1500m (86th)

Liam O’Brien – 500m (66th), 1000m (57th), 1500m (43rd)

The four World Cups served as qualifying events for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The Special Olympic Qualification Classification quotas will be allocated by 13 December 2021. Full rules of the Olympic qualifying procedures can be viewed here.

 

McAnuff and O’Brien Set For Final World Cup

Ryan McAnuff (27) and Liam O’Brien (23) line up this weekend at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Dordrecht, Netherlands (25-28 November), the final stage of four qualifying events for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Both McAnuff and O’Brien will be racing from tomorrow (25 November) inside the Optisport SportBoulevard. First up will be the 1500m heats and quarterfinals which will be followed later in the day by 500m preliminaries and heats. On Friday (26 November) the 1000m preliminaries and heats will take place. Subsequent rounds and finals will be held on Saturday (27 November) and Sunday (28 November).

For both skaters, the goal again will be to progress as far as they can in each distance to accumulate ranking points. There are 32 Olympic quota places in the 500m and 1000m distances and 36 in the 1500m on offer. Full rules of the Olympic qualifying procedures can be viewed here.

This will be McAnuff’s season debut. After the first three World Cup events, the current World Cup Classification for O’Brien in each distance is as follows:

500m (60th), 1000m (69th), 1500m (42nd)

“I’m really excited to be back skating, especially here in the Netherlands,” McAnuff said. “I hope to make Ireland proud!”

“I was really pleased with how I raced last weekend in Hungary,” O’Brien said. “I am hoping to repeat that performance this weekend in the Netherlands.”

The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating will be streamed live on the ISU Skating YouTube channel. The event can also be followed on social media via the #ShortTrackSkating hashtag.

Schedule (Irish time)

25 November

09:21 1500m Heats
11:46 1500m Quarterfinals
14:04 500m Preliminaries
15:34 500m Heats

26 November

10:56 1000m Preliminaries
13:04 1000m Heats

27 November

09:31 1500m Ranking Finals
10:12 500m Ranking Finals
12:33 1500m Semifinals
13:26 1500m Finals
14:15 500m Quarterfinals
14:53 500m Semifinals
15:30 500m Finals

28 November

09:27 1000m Ranking Finals
12:37 1000m Quarterfinals
13:18 1000m Semifinals
13:58 1000m Finals

Six Speed Skaters Named To 2021/2022 ISAI National Team

The Board of Directors of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) have selected six speed 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::

Short Track Speed Skating

Ryan McAnuff
Sean McAnuff
Liam O’Brien

Speed Skating

Tara Donoghue
Rory McCarthy
Siún Ní Dhúgáin

 

Ryan McAnuff has been selected to the National Team for the sixth consecutive season. At the 2020 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, he finished in 34th place overall. He is currently studying medicine at the University of Limerick.

“I am very excited to once again be named to the Irish Short Track Speed Skating team,” Ryan said. “I am excited for another season with a growing Irish team where we look to qualify for the 2022 Olympic Games.”

Sean McAnuff joins his brother Ryan on the National Team again for the sixth time in a row. He placed 35th at the 2020 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships. Since December 2020, he has been training in Budapest, Hungary.

“I feel fortunate to be able to prepare for the Olympic year with Team Hungary, one of the best teams in the world, ” Sean said. “This opportunity has encouraged me to really have fun in the preparation process, and work harder than ever so that I can be the most well-rounded athlete possible. My goals are not only to succeed in my performance on the ice, but to see growth in my attitude, my perspectives, and discovery of what my definition of success looks like in my sport. It can be so easy to get caught up in thinking about the Olympic Qualifiers each day, so I am working hard to stay focused on living in the moment, celebrating my daily successes, and taking in the enjoyment of this season of life.”

Liam O’Brien has been selected for the Irish national team for the third time. Earlier this year, he finished 25th at European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland and 29th at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He currently trains in Seongnam, Republic of Korea.

“I am looking forward to racing again this season,” O’Brien said. “The focus is to be competitive at the World Cups, with the end goal being Beijing at the beginning of 2022.”

Tara Donoghue placed 11th in the Mass Start race at the 2020 World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland, the best result ever by an Irish ice skater at an ISU Championships. In 2019, she also became the first ice skater to earn a spot for Ireland at the Winter Youth Olympic Games which she was unfortunately unable to use due to age restrictions.

“My goals for the upcoming season are to qualify for the Senior World Cups in the 3000 metres and mass start,” Donoghue said. “From there on the ultimate goal would be qualification for the Beijing 2022 Olympics.”

Rory McCarthy was the first male long track speed skater to be named to the National Team in 2020. Based in the Netherlands, his favourite distance is the 500 metres.

“For the coming season, I hope to enjoy getting back to competition and seeing how far I can push myself,” McCarthy said.

Siún Ní Dhúgáin was also selected to the National Team for the first time in 2020. In July 2019, she participated in the “Road to Ice” training camp at Thialf Academy in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

You can find out more about our national team members here.

Bright Spots For Irish Ice Skating Amidst 2020 Challenges

Despite the past twelve months presenting major obstacles for our association and members, 2020 has not been without its highlights for Irish ice skating.

January was a hectic month with the conclusion of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland’s seasonal Emerald Skate lessons, a test session and the annual Winter Challenge. Internationally, Conor Stakelum represented Ireland at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Graz, Austria, while Ryan and Sean McAnuff flew the flag at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. Ava Ryan became the first female short track speed skater from Ireland to participate at the ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Bormio, Italy.

In February, Tara Donoghue continued to make history for Irish ice skating. At the ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland, she placed 11th and 18th in the mass start and 3000 metres races respectively, the highest placements ever for an Irish skater at an ISU Championships. The same month saw the Irish National Figure Skating Championships held at Lee Valley, London where five titles were decided. While it turned out to be one of the final domestic events on the Irish sporting calendar to take place before an initial lockdown in March, the effects of the pandemic were already being felt with the shipment of the championships medals from China being delayed.

Tara Donoghue was the recipient of an ISU Development Programme Junior Scholarship in May becoming only the second Irish athlete ever to be awarded.

Odhrán Allen and Clara Peters were welcome additions to the ISAI Board of Directors in July. Later in the month, the ISAI announced its largest ever national team for figure skating and speed skating.

With a slew of events cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, it was October before Elizabeth Golding and Sophia Tkacheva became the first national team members to compete internationally when they took part in the Budapest Trophy in Budapest, Hungary.

In November, Golding was back in Budapest for the Santa Claus Cup where she finished fourth.

The ISAI’s Annual General Meeting went online in December with members virtually attending via Zoom.

2021 looks like it will be challenging both domestically and internationally for the foreseeable future with the ISAI’s Emerald Skate lessons for the 2020/2021 winter season and the ISU European Figure Skating Championships next month, for which Sam McAllister had been selected, already cancelled. The ISAI will continue to prioritise the health and safety of its members as we look forward to the day normal activities can be resumed.

 

Seven Speed Skaters Selected To 2020/2021 ISAI National Team

The Board of Directors of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) have selected seven speed 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::

Short Track Speed Skating

Ryan McAnuff
Sean McAnuff
Liam O’Brien
Ava Ryan

Speed Skating

Tara Donoghue
Rory McCarthy
Siún Ní Dhúgáin

 

Ryan McAnuff has been selected to the National Team for the fifth consecutive season. At the 2020 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, he finished in 34th place overall with a career best individual placing of 24th in the 1000 metres. He is currently studying medicine at the University of Limerick.

Sean McAnuff joins his brother Ryan on the National Team for the fifth time in a row. He placed 35th at the 2020 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships with a personal best individual finish of 25th in the 1500 metres.

Liam O’Brien has been selected for the Irish national team for the second time. He currently trains in Seongnam, Republic of Korea under the tutelage of Lee Kwang Soo.

Ava Ryan became the first female short track speed skater to be named to represent Ireland at an ISU Championships in January 2020. She set three national records in her World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships debut. She trains under Simon Cho, 2010 Olympic medallist, at the Potomac Speed Skating Club in Maryland, United States of America.

Tara Donoghue placed 11th in the Mass Start and 18th in the 3000 metres at the 2020 World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland, the best results ever by an Irish ice skater at an ISU Championships. Earlier in the season, she also became the first ice skater to earn a spot for Ireland at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Rory McCarthy is the first male long track speed skater to be named to the National Team. Based in the Netherlands, his favourite distance is the 500 metres.

Siún Ní Dhúgáin has also been selected to the National Team for the first time. In July 2019, she participated in the “Road to Ice” training camp at Thialf Academy in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

You can find out more about our national team members here.

Ryan And Sean McAnuff Ready For Short Track Europeans

Ryan and Sean McAnuff will be flying the flag for Ireland at the ISU (International Skating Union) European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Debrecen, Hungary (24-26 January).

For the second year in a row at the European Championships, Ireland will have two representatives in the men’s category as the McAnuffs secured the spots with their overall placement at last year’s Europeans in Dordrecht, Netherlands.

The brothers will be lining up among 141 skaters from 23 countries who will be vying for top honours in Debrecen. The competition will begin with the qualifying rounds for the 500, 1000 and 1500 metre distances on Friday, 24 January. The subsequent rounds will take place on Saturday, 25 January and Sunday, 26 January.

Ryan is now in the second year of his degree in medicine at the University of Limerick and has been continuing his studies with training. Sean has already participated in two World Cups in Salt Lake City, United States of America and Montreal, Canada.

“I am excited to be racing and representing Ireland once again,” Ryan McAnuff said. “I find it very rewarding balancing full-time medical school as well as training for international competition.”

“This weekend is going to be lots of fun,” Sean McAnuff said. “I will focus on improving each race and implementing the specifics I have been working on in training. I’m very excited to see how it goes.”

You can follow the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships on the ISU YouTube Channel and by using the #EuroShortTrack #UpAgain and #ShortTrackSkating hashtags on social media. Competition results will be updated here.

Irish Figure And Short Track Teams Selected For 2020 Europeans

The Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) has selected the skaters who will represent Ireland at the 2020 European Figure Skating Championships in Graz, Austria (20-26 January) and the 2020 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Debrecen, Hungary (24-26 January).

Conor Stakelum will compete in the men’s singles category at the European Figure Skating Championships alongside the cream of European skating talent. In order to qualify for the championships, each competitor had to obtain a set of minimum technical scores at International Skating Union (ISU) international competitions during the previous and/or current seasons.

This is the third consecutive year that the Dundee-based athlete will make an appearance at the European Championships. In January 2018, he became the first Irish male skater to participate in the prestigious championships which were first held in 1891.

“I am very happy to have been selected for my third European Championships and I hope to build on my experience from the previous two championships in Austria,” Stakelum said.

Ryan and Sean McAnuff will also be flying the flag for Ireland later on the same week at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Hungary. The brothers were the first Irish speed skaters to compete internationally. At the last edition of Europeans in Dordrecht, Netherlands, two spots for Ireland were secured for the second consecutive year. Ryan is currently a medical student at the University of Limerick, while Sean is based in Canada.

“I am extremely excited to be representing Ireland alongside my brother at another European Championships,” Ryan said. “I can’t wait to take on some of the top skaters in the world!”

“This season I have been working a lot on making the most out of each race, each competition and each practice I do,” Sean said. “I have been trying out new strategies and working on and improving my technique a lot. I am really looking forward to applying all these lessons I have learned at the European Championships in January.”

2019-2020 Irish Speed Skating Team Announced

The selection of the Irish National Speed Skating Team Team for the 2019-2020 season has been made by the Board of Directors of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI).

The ISAI has selected the following members to compete in International Skating Union (ISU) speed skating events for the 2019-2020 season:

Speed Skating

Tara Donoghue

Short Track Speed Skating

Ava Fradlin-Ryan
Ryan McAnuff
Sean McAnuff
Liam O’Brien

Tara Donoghue continued to make history last season by becoming the first Irish speed skater to participate in the World Junior Speed Skating Championships. She also set a number of new Irish records and personal bests over the course of her competitive assignments.

Ava Fradlin-Ryan is the first female short track speed skater to be named to an Irish national team. She trains under Simon Cho, 2010 Olympic medallist, at the Potomac Speed Skating Club in Maryland, United States of America.

Ryan McAnuff started a degree in medicine at the University of Limerick last year and balanced his studies with training and competition. At the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht, Netherlands, he smashed his 1500 metres national record by four seconds.

Sean McAnuff joined his brother Ryan at those Europeans and they became the first Irish ice skaters to compete in the same category at an International Skating Union (ISU) Championships. Sean capped off his season by making his World Short Track Speed Skating Championship debut in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Liam O’Brien is selected for the Irish national team for the first time. He currently trains at the Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink in Sydney, Australia with coaches Scott Weekes and Maggie Holland.

You can find out more about our national team members here.