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Irish Figure Skaters Hit Their Stride At Tayside Trophy

With the season well and truly under way, a trio of Irish figure skaters competed this weekend at the Tayside Trophy in Dundee, Scotland.

After his withdrawal midway through Lombardia Trophy last month, Sam McAllister was back to full health at this event. In the Senior Men’s short programme, he nailed a triple Lutz at the start of his routine and then attempted a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination. He also landed a double Axel and all three of his spins were awarded Level 4. He scored 58.37 points and stood in fifth place overnight.

The free skating took place earlier today and McAllister included five triple jumps in his programme to “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed. He once again earned Level 4 for all three of his spins and his step sequence was also given Level 4 by the technical panel. He posted a score of 104.05 points for the free which gave him a total of 162.42 and was sufficient to keep him in fifth place overall. This also meant that he earned some valuable ISU World Standings and Season’s World Ranking points for his efforts.

Dillon Judge opened his short programme in the Junior Men’s category by landing a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination. He also attempted a triple loop and a double Axel. He received a season’s best score of 36.10 which put him in sixth place.

In the free skating, Judge commenced with an attempt at a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and went on to land two double Axels successfully. He achieved Level 3 for two of his spins and set another season best score in the free of 69.81 for a total of 105.91 points. He moved up to fifth in the final standings.

Sophia Tkacheva embarked on her short programme in the Junior Women’s event with an attempted double Axel. She later landed a double Lutz-double toe loop combination and a solo double loop. She also garned Level 4 for both a layback spin and a change foot combination spin. She attained a lifetime best score of 35.36 points which put her in seventh place after the short.

Tkacheva went for a triple Salchow to open her free skating routine and also tried for a double Axel shortly afterwards. She included a further five jumping passes in the programme to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi and closed out with a Level 4 layback spin the received a positive grade of execution from the judging panel. Her free score of 57.10 was a season’s best and she ended up with a career high total of 92.46 and eighth place.

Robyn Foster was scheduled to participate in the Junior Women’s event, but had to withdraw due to illness.

Speaking after the competition concluded, Karen O’Sullivan, President of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland and Team Leader at Tayside Trophy, said:

“Team Ireland should be proud of how they represented and performed this weekend. Those of us on the other side of the boards are truly proud of them. Both Junior skaters put in season bests in both short and free programmes. This has to be motivational for them that their dedication and hard work is showing growth and development.

“Sam had to dig deep after a nasty fall in the free programme to retain his fifth place position and we are really proud he had the mental strength to do this. He is beginning to show his maturity as a senior skater and the reward if his first World Ranking points has to be a silver lining.”

McAllister Looks Ahead To Lombardia Trophy

Fresh off the back of his bronze medal winning performance at last month’s Britannia Cup, Sam McAllister is competing this weekend (16-18 September) at Lombardia Trophy, an ISU Challenger Series event, in Bergamo, Italy.

McAllister takes to the ice in the men’s short programme tomorrow afternoon (16 September)  at 13:30 (IST) and finishes up with the free skating on Sunday, 18 September which begins at 13:15 (IST).

“Since Britannia Cup, I have been working on cleaning up my programmes and also working on my triple Axel,” McAllister said. “My goals for Lombardia are to put down two good skates and to try some triple Axels in the practices.”

Lombardia Trophy will be streamed live at this link. The competition results can be viewed here.

McAllister Bronze; Tkacheva 7th at Britannia Figure Cup

Sam McAllister and Sophia Tkacheva got their season under way this weekend at the Britannia Figure Cup in Sheffield, United Kingdom.

McAllister opened his short programme with triple toe loop-triple toe loop jump combination and triple Lutz attempts. He later went on to land a double Axel and executed a Level 4 fly sit spin. He posted a score of 54.50 to place third after the first segment of the competition.

Earlier today McAllister was back for the free skating which he began with a double Axel-double Axel sequence. He followed that with a triple flip attempt and a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and concluded his routine with a Level 4 change foot combination spin. A free score of 104.45 points gave him a combined total of 158.95 and kept him in third place.

Tkacheva participated in the Junior Women’s category short programme on the first day of competition. She commenced with attempts at double Axel and triple Salchow and also landed a double loop. She received a score of 27.38 which had her in seventh overnight.

The second day of competition saw Tkacheva tackle the free skating. She started her routine with an attempted triple Salchow and also went for a double Axel. She included a Level 4 change foot combination spin in her programme and received positive grades of execution for her choreographic sequence and layback spin. She earned 51.65 points in the free which amounted to a total score of 79.03 points and she finished in seventh place overall.

 

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

McAllister Scores Career High At Triglav Trophy

Sam McAllister (23) has capped off his international season with a silver medal and two new personal bests at the Triglav Trophy in Jesenice, Slovenia.

McAllister opened the senior men’s event yesterday in the short programme where he attempted a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and a triple flip right out of the gate. He landed a double Axel and his final two spins were graded Level 4 by the technical panel. He received a score of 56.23 points to place third halfway through the competition.

Earlier today he performed in the free skating and reeled off a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, a triple Salchow, a triple flip and a triple Lutz in quick succession. He also included two double Axels and a triple toe loop in his routine with all three of his spins awarded Level 4. He racked up a free score of 120.72 points to give him a total of 176.95 points and moved up to second place overall. Both scores represent new Irish national records.

“It has been a successful trip to Slovenia,” McAllister said. “Still some hard work to be done, but I will enjoy what I have achieved here this weekend.”

McAllister Fourth At Dragon Trophy

Sam McAllister has placed fourth at this weekend’s Dragon Trophy in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

McAllister opened the competition with the short programme where he attempted a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination as his first element. He went on to land a triple flip and a double Axel and secured Level 4 for all three of his spins. He was awarded a new personal best score of 60.73 points to place third midway through the event.

In the free skating earlier today, McAllister commenced his routine with a triple Lutz attempt and followed that up with a cleanly landed triple Salchow and a triple flip. He also included a triple toe loop in his programme and a flying sit spin was graded Level 4 by the technical panel. He posted another personal best score of 105.88 points which gave him a total of 166.61 points.

“I am happy with my new personal bests in the short and the long,” McAllister said. “Both programmes were definitely not my best showings, but it’s sport.”

 

McAllister Withdraws From Europeans

Sam McAllister (23) has withdrawn from the men’s event at next week’s ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia (10-16 January) due to a positive pre-departure Covid-19 PCR test.

McAllister had also been selected for the 2021 Europeans in Zagreb, Croatia which were subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic.

“I am completely devastated that my second Europeans has been stopped in its tracks due to the Covid-19 pandemic – first being cancelled and second being unable to travel after contracting the virus two days before I fly,” McAllister said.

“I will come back from this fighting harder and will aim for the World Championships now. A huge thank you to everyone that has been kind to take time out of their busy day to wish me well. I appreciate you all and good luck to Conor in Tallinn.”

McAllister will be replaced by substitute Conor Stakelum who will be competing at his fourth Europeans.

“I feel very bad for Sam, as no one wants to be unable to compete,” Stakelum said. “I wish him a speedy recovery.

“It is not how I expected it to happen, but I am excited to go to Europeans nonetheless.”

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.