Women In Sport Week: High Performance

To mark Women In Sport Week (6-12 March), the Ice Skating Association of Ireland asked the women who make ice skating happen in Ireland a series of questions to hear about the challenges and unique culture of the sport within the country.

Today we focus on Laura Hegarty and Sophia Tkacheva, two members of the figure skating national team who represent Ireland internationally in competitions. Hegarty, along with her brother Kevin Hegarty, competes in ice dance, while Tkacheva particpates  in singles skating.

What inspired you to get involved in ice skating, and how has the sport influenced your life?

Hegarty: Ice skating has been a part of my life since childhood. The sport has allowed me to travel abroad through competitions and training, expanding my understanding of other athletes and their culture.

Tkacheva: I started ice skating when i was five years old and as an easily-influenced child I was watching TV one day and my parents put on the sports channel to keep me entertained. A women’s’ice skating competition came on and I was instantly mesmerised. In this very moment, I realised that this is exactly what I wanted to do and my life has never been the same since. If it wasn’t for the women ice skating on the TV screen, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to represent Ireland at countless international competitions, including the Junior Grand Prix. I wouldn’t have had the experiences and discipline that only comes from figure skating and I wouldn’t have learned the significant life lessons that come with this incredible sport. I started ice skating because of the influence of women in this sport and almost 12 years later I’m skating like I wanted to when I was five.

Women in sport have historically faced barriers to participation and recognition. Have you experienced any challenges or obstacles in ice skating in Ireland because of your gender?

Hegarty: I haven’t felt any restrictions either in training or in competitions. Gladly, it’s an easily accessible sport to any sex. Unlike sports like football or rugby, the “field” (rink) isn’t separated by gender.

Tkacheva: As a woman in ice skating in Ireland, I’ve experienced both obstacles and challenges in my career. There were times where I’ve felt that my injuries and pain weren’t taken seriously because I was labelled as “dramatic” or that I was “overreacting” and other stereotyped micro aggressions which completely dismissed me and my experiences in this sport as a whole. The lack of resources for training and practice in this country are definitely the biggest obstacle that I’ve faced in my career. The struggles that come from not being able to train for the sport that has shaped my life because of greater focus on training resources distribution to more male dominated sports is astounding. Ice skating is a sport that is underestimated and overlooked in Ireland and I as a woman in ice skating have felt the effect of this more than anything. There have also been several occasions where I, as an ice skater, have not been taken seriously and was even laughed at when I mentioned my participation in this sport.

What do you feel are the positive aspects of being a woman involved in ice skating in Ireland?

Hegarty: Statistically there are more women in the sport, and therefore, I feel a strong sense of an empowering community.

Tkacheva: There is an abundance of positive aspects of being a woman in ice skating in this country. From my experience, since it is so unusual and unheard of, this sport is greatly admired by people. It’s not a common skill, so people tend to be very impressed when they find out that I’m an ice skater. Being a woman in this sport I also feel like there is a great support circle specifically around women. At all competitions, women always help each other out in any way and it is very comforting to know that despite the difficulties of being a woman in ice skating, there will always be other women athletes supporting me.

Representation and visibility are important issues in all areas of life, including sport. What would you like to see happen in the world of ice skating to encourage more women to participate and succeed ?

Hegarty: Within Ireland I definitely believe the rate of participation from not only women, but the general public will increase with the presence of an ice rink. Globally the sport is being popularised through media. The more access people have to figure skating and its facilities, the more people will attempt it and potentially succeed.

Tkacheva: The biggest limit that is preventing women from participating and succeeding in ice skating is access to training resources, specifically in Ireland. There is simply no way for more women to participate in a sport that only seems to exist during Christmas time at small, temporary ice rinks. It is the main issue surrounding the world of ice skating in Ireland and if it is not dealt with, there is little to no chance of an increase of participation and success of women in ice skating in Ireland. This is especially discouraging, so the first course of action here would be to build an ice rink in Ireland. Something else that I would like to see happen in the world of ice skating to encourage women would be an increase in representation of women in this sport. This would lead to more support for women from all around the globe which will lead to encouragement to participate and succeed in ice skating.

Irish Ice Skating Thrived In 2022 Reaching New Heights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judge 11th; Tkacheva 26th At NRW Trophy

National team members Sophia Tkacheva and Dillon Judge were back in action this weekend at the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany in their respective categories.

Tkacheva began the event for Team Ireland in the Junior Women’s short programme. She opened her routine with an attempted double Axel and went on to land a double Lutz-double toe loop combination and a solo double loop. She ended her programme with a Level 4 change foot combination spin. A score of 30.05 points put her in 27th place overnight.

In the following day’s free skating, Tkacheva commenced with a double loop and again attempted a double Axel. She included five other jumping passes in her performance and garnered Level 3 for both a flying change foot sit spin and a layback spin. She scored 55.38 points which placed her 24th in the free and she moved up a spot to 26th overall with a total of 85.43.

Judge cleanly landed a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination at the start of the Junior Men’s short programme before attempting a triple loop. He also included a double Axel and two Level 3 spins in his routine. His score of 38.49 points put him in 11th place at the midway stage of the event.

The next day Judge concluded the competition with the free skating. He began with a triple Salchow attempt followed by a double Axel. Later on in the programme another successfully landed double Axel earned a positive grade of execution from the judging panel. He also received full value for a Level 3 flying camel spin. His free score of 66.28 points gave him a combined total of 104.77 points and he remained in 11th place.

“Overall I was pretty dissatisfied as the mistakes I made were not reflected in practices,” Judge said. “However, for the first time, I managed to achieve new spin levels on the flying camel.”

Sam McAllister was third after the Senior Men’s short programme, but had to withdraw from the event due to injury.

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.”

Irish Figure Skaters Round Out JGP Campaign In Poland

Ireland’s figure skaters concluded this season’s ISU Junior Grand Prix assignments when a team of four athletes competed at the Solidarity Cup this weekend in Gdansk, Poland.

First out of the gate was Sophia Tkacheva (17) in the women’s short programme on Day One of the competition. Skating to “Bust Your Knee Caps (Johnny Don’t Leave Me)” by Pomplamoose, she attempted a double Axel and landed a double Lutz-double toe loop combination and a double loop. She closed out with a Level 4 change foot combination spin that earned a positive grade of execution from the judging panel. She scored 30.13 points to sit in 41st place halfway through the event.

Tkacheva was back the following afternoon to participate in the free skating. In her routine to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi, she tried a triple Salchow to start and also attempted to include a double Axel later on in her performance. She once again executed a Level 4 change foot combination spin and received a free skating score of 43.21 to give her a total of 73.34 points and 46th place overall.

“Honestly, I think that the competition didn’t go well for me,” Tkacheva said. “I think i didn’t put my best foot forward especially in the free skate and I didn’t get to showcase what I’ve worked on over the summer. This is definitely something that I will focus on improving in the future. Nonetheless, this competition was a really big event that I’m really glad I had the opportunity to attend and talk a lot to incredible people like Javier Fernandez, Mark Hanretty and Ted Barton. The atmosphere was nothing like any other competition and I got to learn a lot about myself there too.

“For my next competition I will work on handling any nerves before my skate and my expressiveness during programmes. I will also focus on new spin combinations to get higher levels and better components.”

Dillon Judge (18) landed a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination to begin with in his short programme to “Englishman in New York” by Sting and Charl du Plessis. He also attempted a triple loop and a double Axel to follow. He garnered 33.28 points to occupy 26th place after the first portion of the competition.

Judge opened his free skating routine with attempts at triple Salchow and double Axel. He was awarded positive grades of execution for a Level 3 change foot combination spin as well as a double Axel-double toe loop combination later on in the programme. He scored season bests for his free (59.74) and total (93.02) which saw him finish in 26th place.

“My thoughts on the competition are that the free programme spins showed improvement since my last competition and there is room to improve and up the GOEs,” Judge said. “I will work on the jump GOEs to marginally gain on the TES and the spin consistency to gain better GOE and better levels for the next competition.”

After making history in August by becoming the first ice dance team from Ireland to compete internationally, Laura Hegarty (16) and Kevin Hegarty (19) were back on competitive ice to build on their performance at their first Junior Grand Prix assignment. In the rhythm dance, they skated to “Sombrero Blanco” by Mala Rumba from “The Mask of Zorro” film soundtrack and to “Assassin’s Tango” by John Powell from the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” film soundrack and negotiated the five required elements. They achieved Level 3 for a rotational lift and earned a season best score of 22.39 points to place 24th in the segment.

The Hegarty siblings were first up in the free dance earlier today and commenced with synchronised twizzles which were their highest scoring element in their programme to “Harem” by Sarah Brightman. The routine also comprised a dance spin, one foot turns sequence, a straightline lift, choreographic steps and slides, a rotational lift and a diagonal step sequence. They post another season best of 34.33 to bring them a total of 56.72 which kept them in 24th place.

“The people were very nice and the event was well organised,” Laura Hegarty said.

“This competition has allowed us to review what elements need to be improved,” Kevin Hegarty said. “We will try to maintain our physical fitness so that we will be in suitable condition when returning to the ice.”

All of Team Ireland’s performances at the Junior Grand Prix in Gdansk can be viewed on the ISU Junior Grand Prix YouTube channel.

Dillon Judge – SP/FS

Sophia Tkacheva – SP/FS

Laura Hegarty/Kevin Hegarty – RD/FD

Irish Figure Skaters Poland Bound For ISU Junior Grand Prix

Dillon Judge (Men), Sophia Tkacheva (Women) and Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty (Ice Dance) take to competitive ice this weekend (29 September – 1 October) as they line up for the Solidarity Cup in Gdansk, Poland, a part of this season’s ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating.Last month Judge participated in the Junior Grand Prix held in Courchevel, France where he finished in 19th place. He is aiming to build on his performance there.“Since my last competition, I have been working on improving my spin consistency as it was an area that required work,” Judge said. “My goal for this competition is to improve the average spin levels and Grades of Execution.”Tkacheva returns to the Junior Grand Prix circuit after making her debut last season. She finished 7th at last month’s Britannia Cup in Sheffield, United Kingdom. She is currently coached by two-time European medallist Kevin van der Perren and eleven-time British champion Jenna McCorkell.“From my last competition, I’ve been working on consistency of jumps in my program and trying out new spins,” Tkacheva said. “Since the regulations changed this season, I’ve tried various combinations through trial and error, and I was able to find the right spins for both my programmes in time for the JGP in Gdansk.

“My goals for this competition are to skate my programmes to my fullest abilities and to present what I’ve been working on. This will be my second time skating my new short programme in competition, so I’m really looking forward to that and my free as well.”The Hegarty siblings made history for Irish skating when they became the first ice dance team to represent Ireland in an international competition at the Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel, France last month. They have set their sights on skating even better this weekend in Poland.“Our main initiative was to improve our stamina and our elements,” Laura Hegarty said. “We hope to achieve cleaner elements.”“We have been working on polishing our elements, endurance and overall performance,” Kevin Hegarty said. “Our goal is to do as well as we can.”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 2022/2023 season marks the 25th 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. Ireland has been represented on the series since 2008.This week’s Solidarity Cup Junior Grand Prix in Gdansk, Poland will be broadcast live on the ISU’s dedicated YouTube channel. Direct links for each of the segments are as follows:Women’s Short Programme (29 September)Men’s Short Programme (29 September)Ice Dance Rhythm Dance (30 September)Women Free Skating (30 September)Men Free Skating (1 October)Ice Dance Free Dance (1 October)The conversation about the series can also be followed by using the #JGPFigure hashtag on social media.

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