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Judge and Tkacheva Make Most Of Maiden Junior Grand Prix

Irish skaters Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva have concluded their ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating debuts finishing 21st and 25th in their respective categories in Kosice, Slovakia.

Judge took to the ice at the Steel Arena on Day One of the event in the Men’s Short Programme. Skating to “Mack the Knife” performed by Bobby Darin, he attempted a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination, a double Axel and a triple flip. Despite a mishap on a flying sit spin, he managed to earn a new personal best score of 34.52 points leaving him in 22nd place overnight.

The following day, Judge was back to skate in the Free Skating segment of the competition. He opened with a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination, a double Axel and this time round successfully completed a flying sit spin. He also included solo triple Salchow and second double Axel attempts as well as two other jump combinations in his routine to a medley of songs by Jamie Callum. He scored another personal best of 62.99 points for the free to give him a total of 97.51 points to move up one spot in the overall standings.

“It was great being surrounded by some of the best Junior skaters in the world,” Judge said. “It gave me the opportunity to see how they perform close up and take away some ideas which will help me improve. It was great being in an environment where everyone was passionate about ice skating.

“I have learnt from this performance that I need to work harder on elements. I lost some significant points due to small errors. Using the feedback received from the judges, my coach Margaret and I will use this to help improve for my next performance.”

Tkacheva made her Junior Grand Prix debut in the Women’s Short Programme on the evening of Day One. She began her programme with a double Axel and a double Lutz-double toe loop jump combination. Both a flying sit spin and a change foot combination spin were graded Level 4 by the technical panel. She received a new personal best score of 32.00 points which saw her in 25th place at the midway stage of the competition.

After a day’s break between the short and free, Tkacheva returned to the ice on Day Three. Performing to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi, she attempted three jump combinations in her routine as well as a double Axel. She once again secured Level 4 for a change foot combination spin and posted another personal best score of 49.07 points for the free. She finished with a total of 81.07 points.

“My experience at my first JGP was unforgettable,” Tkacheva said. “I made some mistakes which gives me something to work on for the rest of the season. The atmosphere of the Grand Prix was incredible and being able to participate in a competition where people come from all over the world is something I will always remember.

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens to go for every element and to learn from any mistakes. It’s also very important to enjoy the experience of being at a competition like the JGP.”

Performance Videos

Dillon Judge Short Programme

Dillon Judge Free Skating

Sophia Tkacheva Short Programme

Sophia Tkacheva Free Skating

Judge And Tkacheva Line Up For Junior Grand Prix Debut

This week will finally mark the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating debuts for Dillon Judge (17) and Sophia Tkacheva (15) when they take to the ice at the Steel Arena in Kosice, Slovakia. They were also selected to represent Ireland last year in the series which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both skaters will compete tomorrow (2 September) in the first part of their respective events. In the morning, Judge is scheduled to perform at 11:38 Irish time in the Men’s Short Programme. Tkacheva will be in action later in the Women’s Short Programme at 18:54 Irish time. The Men’s Free Skating will take place on Friday afternoon (3 September), while the Women’s Free Skating will be held on Saturday afternoon (4 September)

Judge is looking forward to being back out on competitive ice again this week after the long break due to the pandemic.

“I want to give the best performance possible and improve on my Short and Free Programme scores from my last international competitions.”

For Tkacheva, preparations for this season have not been ideal due to the ever-changing restrictions, but she is hopeful that the competition will go well.

“I have been working very hard with my coaches for the last couple of months and I will present my new free programme.”

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 2021/2022 season marks the 24th 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 Kosice, Slovakia will be broadcast live on the ISU’s dedicated YouTube channel. Direct links for each of the segments are as follows:

Men’s Short Programme (2 September)

Women’s Short Programme (2 September)

Men’s Free Skating (3 September)

Women’s Free Skating (4 September)

The conversation about the series can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure hashtag on social media.

Junior Grand Prix Beckons For Irish Trio

After the cancellation of last season’s ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this week marks its welcome return with the first event to be held in Courchevel, France. Three Irish skaters will compete in the series this season at subsequent stages in Kosice, Slovakia (1-4 September) and Linz, Austria (6-9 October).

Dillon Judge will be the sole representative for Ireland in the men’s category this season. The 2020 Junior National champion will finally be making his Junior Grand Prix debut after missing out last season. It was a challenging year for Judge who had to adjust to the ever changing restrictions in the United Kingdom where he is based.

“While the ice rinks were closed, I worked to keep my fitness up using a cross trainer and skipping,” he said. “I carried out a lot of off ice training working on jump rotation. This was done with my coach online and also by myself at home.

“In addition, I travelled with my coach to train in Hungary so that I could get back on the ice. When the rinks in UK opened, I returned and worked hard on improving my strength and fitness and practicing my routines.”

At his two assignments in Slovakia and Austria, Judge is ready to show all that he has worked on since he last competed.

“I want to give the best competitive performance possible and better my Short and Free Programme scores attained in my last international competitions.”

Like Judge, Sophia Tkacheva will also be making her long-awaited Junior Grand Prix debut in Slovakia at the beginning of September. She is eager to get back competing after the ups and downs and interruptions of the past year.

“I was very disappointed to hear that the JGP got cancelled last year as I trained a lot and was well prepared,” Tkacheva said. “This season is quite different. I had a long break since the country went under a lockdown and the ice rink was closed for almost six months. I did plenty of in-line skating but it is certainly not the same. I found it tough to stay off the ice for so long and I’m so happy to be back!

“I regret I haven’t gotten more time to get ready for my first JGP,  but I have been working very hard with my coaches for the last couple of months and I will present my new free programme. I will do my best and fingers crossed I will perform well.”

Tkacheva is looking forward to a return to normality this season so she can continue working on her technical progression.

“This season I will continue to work on my triple jumps. I hope there will be no more restrictions and my training schedule will not be affected as much as last season.”

Elizabeth Golding is the veteran of the trio with previous Junior Grand Prix experience in 2018 and 2019. She is eager to show what she has been practicing during the off season and will appear in the Junior Grand Prix in Austria in early October.

“In terms of my skating, I have been working on improving the quality of my programmes, working on getting those levels on my spins and step sequences, as well as adding choreography,” Golding said. “I have also been working hard on my triple jumps, and attempting to add them in my programmes.

“My goals for the JGP this year are to perform cleanly (with regard to spins, step sequences and transitions) and to show good attempts of the new triple jumps I have learnt this year, as well as get the minimum scores for Worlds.”

More than anything else, Golding is looking forward to getting back on the ice and compete.

“I am going to try to just enjoy myself!”

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 2021/2022 season marks the 24th 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.

The first of the seven stages will be held this week with live coverage available on the ISU’s dedicated YouTube channel. The conversation about the series can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure hashtag on social media.

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.

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.

 

Golding and Tkacheva Conclude Competition At Budapest Trophy

Elizabeth Golding and Sophia Tkacheva finished 11th and 12th respectively earlier today at the Budapest Trophy, their opening event of this season, in Budapest, Hungary.

In the short programme, Golding attempted a double Axel, a triple Salchow combination and a double Lutz. All three of her spins were graded Level 3 and she scored 28.55 for the segment to put herself in 11th place overnight after the first day of competition.

The following day Golding began her free skating with double Axel and triple Salchow attempts and went on to land a second double Axel as well as execute a Level 4 Flying Camel Spin towards the end of her programme. She received a free skating score of 56.66 points to give her a combined total of 85.21.

“The competition went okay,” Golding said. “I have many things to work on, but it was great to be back competing after such a long break.”

Tkacheva drew first to skate her short in which she attempted a double Axel, a double flip-double loop combination and a double Lutz. Her Change Foot Combination Spin and Step Sequence were both graded Level 2 by the technical panel and she was awarded a score of 27.30 points putting her in 12th place midway through the event.

In the free, she commenced with a double flip-double loop combination and a double Lutz before attempting a double Axel. She closed her routine with a Level 4 Change Foot Combination Spin and earned a free score of 48.91 points which gave her a final total of 76.21.

“I had a great experience participating here in Budapest,” Tkacheva said. “It has always been my dream to compete at an ISU international competition. I really hope things will go back to normal or improve with the coronavirus soon and I will have regular access to ice to work on my programmes and improve the consistency of my jumps.”

 

Golding And Tkacheva All Set For Season Debut

This weekend sees figure skaters Elizabeth Golding and Sophia Tkacheva make their season debut at the Budapest Trophy (14-17 October) at the Vasas Jégcentrum ice rink in the Hungarian capital when they compete in the Junior Ladies event.

Golding is the 2019 Irish Junior champion and she claimed silver at the 2020 Irish Championships in February this year. Tkacheva took her first Junior national title at those championships and this will be the first time that both skaters participate in a competition since then.

They will first take to the ice in the short programme on Friday afternoon, 16 October and will be back on Saturday afternoon, 17 October for the free skating. The event will be live streamed on the Hungarian Skating Federation’s YouTube channel with detailed results on the competition website.

Despite Junior Grand Prix Being Put On Ice, Irish Figure Skaters Look Ahead

This week was due to see the start of the 2020/2021 ISU (International Skating Union) Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating, but the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic has put paid to these competitions being held this season. Three Irish national team members selected to represent Ireland in the series are among the hundreds of figure skaters from all over the world affected by the cancellation.

Originally inaugurated in 1997, Ireland made its series debut in 2008 when Clara Peters competed at the Czech Skate Junior Grand Prix in Ostrava, Czech Republic. In fact, this marked the first appearance of an Irish ice skater at any international competition. Since then, Irish skaters who have participated at Junior Grand Prix events have gone on to compete at Junior World, European and World Figure Skating Championships.

This season three skaters – Elizabeth Golding, Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva – had been chosen by the Ice Skating Association of Ireland board of directors to take part in the series.

Judge and Tkacheva would have been making their Junior Grand Prix debut and both skaters were looking forward to flying the flag for Ireland at their respective events.

“When I got the email informing me that I was selected to represent Ireland at a Junior Grand Prix I was really excited,” Judge said.  “I knew my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Dublin would know and they would be expecting me to do the best for Ireland. I now had to ensure that the training I was doing resulted in the best performance.”

“I was delighted and honoured to be chosen to represent Ireland at such a big international event,” Tkacheva said.

On the other hand, this was the third season in which Golding was assigned a Junior Grand Prix event and she was looking forward to demonstrating her growth as a skater.

“It was a great privilege to be selected once again to represent Ireland on the Junior Grand Prix series, as I was excited to show all the new elements and new programs I have worked on in Russia over the past few months,” Golding said.

However, on 20 July the ISU announced that, due to COVID-19, this year’s series would be cancelled. After scrambling to arrange ice time because of the restrictions on the opening of training facilities and travel to various jurisdictions, the news came as somewhat of a let down following the excitement of being selected.

“I was disappointed, of course,” Tkacheva said. “We put so much effort in arranging my skating practice this summer. My mum was constantly in contact with embassies and figure skating camp organisers as things were not clear and we were not sure if we could make it.”

“Due to Covid-19 I travelled to Flims, Switzerland to train as the rinks in the U.K. were shut and, although we had a date for them re-opening, it was too close to the first Junior Grand Prix taking place for me to get enough training,” Judge said. “I was in Switzerland when I found out the Junior Grand Prix had been cancelled. I was absolutely gutted and very disappointed.”

“I felt disappointed, but I didn’t allow it to get to me as I know I have many new competitions ahead of me in the upcoming season where I will have a chance to perform and make Ireland proud,” Golding said putting a positive spin on things. “On the other hand, I felt a bit relieved. I was worried that I wouldn’t perform to my best ability due to the coronavirus situation as I only started training again on the ice in June.”

Over the summer months, all of the skaters have been toiling away on and off the ice despite the uncertainties they have faced.

“I was lucky to attend two figure skating camps in the Czech republic in July, where I had worked on my skating skills, jumps and spins,” Tkacheva said. “There were classic choreography and gymnastics classes. In addition, I spent two weeks in Minsk, Belarus in the Olympic figure skating school where I focused more on my programmes.”

“Whilst in Switzerland, I attended a training camp where I worked on skating skills and jumps,” Judge said. “I also used the patch ice as much as possible to hone my routines and practice. In the months prior to travelling to Switzerland with the rinks closed, I carried a lot training by myself and participated in a number of online classes including those put on by the ISU. I also had lessons with my coach online twice a week.”

“I have been working hard on my triple jumps, particularly triple flip and Lutz, as these are my favourites as well as the highest scoring jumps,” Golding said. “I am especially proud that I am able to practice all my triple jumps to my full potential as I have been working with a sports psychologist who has helped me get over my fear of doing certain jumps. Off the ice I have been working on my power and rotation position in my jumps, as well as training my endurance and stamina through circuit training, plyometric training and jogging every evening.”

With the Junior Grand Prix off the table for this season this least, all three skaters are looking ahead with other goals in mind.

“I want to work more on my triple jumps now, to improve my technique, and spend more time on stretching as this is the key for nice spins,” Tkacheva said. “I hope COVID restrictions will be eased soon, and I will be able to train as usual, and hopefully travel to Slovakia for intense practice in October.”

“My parents and I are also monitoring the COVID-19 situation to see if there are any competitions in safe countries going to take place,” Judge said. “I am also looking for other opportunities to attend training camps. Apart from that my coach and I will carry on with our normal training schedule.”

“My plans for the rest of the season are simple- train hard every day to finally get my triple jumps, and practice my new free programme and my old short programme, which now contains a triple lutz in it,” Golding said.

 

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.

Five Titles Decided At Irish Figure Skating Championships

The 2020 Irish Figure Skating Championships concluded earlier today at the Lee Valley Ice Centre in London with titles up for grabs in five different categories over the course of the two days of competition.

Sam McAllister retained the Senior Men’s title. The Ballymoney, County Antrim skater had a shaky start in the short programme where he fell on a double Lutz-triple toe loop combination and doubled a planned triple flip, but he rallied back with a double Axel and two Level 4 spins to score 41.27 points. In contrast to the short, McAllister opened his free skating with a clean triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and went on to land a triple flip and a second triple Lutz. He earned a free score of 101.41 to give him a total of 142.68 for the gold medal.

Five-time national champion Conor Stakelum was in the lead following the short, but subsequently withdrew before the free due to illness.

There were a record number entries in the Junior Ladies category this year and Sophia Tkacheva emerged as the winner. The Gorey, County Wexford native attempted a double Axel, a double flip-double toe loop combination and a double loop in the short to earn 28.02 which put her in a close third overnight. In the free, Tkacheva opened with two jump combinations and also attempted a triple Salchow during her routine in which she amassed a score of 55.85. She finished first in the free and overall with a total of 83.87 points.

Defending champion Elizabeth Golding was leading after the short and was narrowly beaten for the title. She came second in the free to take the silver medal with a total of 83.56. In her Irish Championships debut, Dracy Condon picked up bronze as she scored 80.19 points overall.

After winning the Advanced Novice title at last year’s Irish Championships, Dillon Judge took his first Junior Men’s title with a total of 80.68 points.

On the first day of competition, Laura Hegarty won the Intermediate Novice Ladies title with a total score of 21.96.

The day before her sister became Junior Ladies champions Justina Tkacheva was the winner of the Basic Novice Ladies event with an overall score of 18.38.

Full detailed results for the 2019 Irish Figure Skating Championships are available here.