Posts

2023 Another Remarkable Year For Irish Ice Skating

2023 witnessed ice skating in Ireland continue its forward progression as more milestones were achieved.

The year began in sensational fashion in January at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland. Sean McAnuff became the first athlete from Ireland to nab a place in the main session of the championships when he advanced to the 500 metres quarterfinals. Liam O’Brien then went on to do the same by booking himself a spot in the 1500 metres semifinals. Later in the same month, Sam McAllister finally made his ISU European Figure Skating Championships debut at the third time of asking in Espoo, Finland. He finished in 28th place. At home, the ISAI board announced the appointment of Karen O’Sullivan as Chief Executive Officer and Yvonne Brett as Chief Financial Officer. The first post-Covid Emerald Skate test session was held at Dundrum On Ice.

February saw our short track speed skaters Sean McAnuff and Ryan McAnuff in action at events in Germany and Canada respectively, while figure skaters Dillon Judge and Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty competed in the Netherlands at the Challenge Cup.

Liam O’Brien participated in the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships for the third consecutive time when the event was held in Seoul, South Korea in March. Sam McAllister announced his retirement from competitive skating during the month.

Four-time European competitor Conor Stakelum was appointed ISAI Anti-Doping Officer in May.

Rounding out the 2022/2023 season, the Irish Figure Skating Championships were held for the second at the Dundee Ice Arena in June. Titles were decided in five categories with Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus becoming the first ever Senior Ice Dance champions in the history of the event.

The 2023/2024 season got into full swing in September with two-time Irish Junior Champion Sophia Tkacheva competing at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Istanbul, Türkiye. The appointment of Stephen Judge as ISAI Privacy Officer was announced. Margery Hilko became the first person from Ireland to qualify as an ISU judge when she passed the ISU examination in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Ciera Turner-Frick represented Ireland at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Yerevan, Armenia in October. Dillon Judge made his international senior debut at the Tayside Trophy in Dundee, United Kingdom where he was joined by Sophia Tkacheva who skated in the Junior Women’s event. The season got under way for our short track speed skaters at World Cup 1 in Montreal, Canada where Ryan McAnuff and Liam O’Brien raced. O’Brien also entered World Cup 2 again in Montreal where he not only set a new Irish record in the 1000 metres, but also advanced to the 1000 metres quarterfinals.

In November, the 2023/2024 Emerald Skate learn to skate lessons commenced at Dundrum On Ice. Dillon Judge competed at the Denkova-Staviski Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria where he finished 10th. The ISAI Annual General Meeting was held on 29 November in Dublin. It was the first in-person AGM since 2019.

Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus kicked off December and their season when they participated in the Bosphorus Cup in Istanbul, Türkiye. The second World Ice Skating Day took place on 3 December with bigger and better celebrations than in the previous year here in Ireland. Soucisse and Firus and Dillon Judge took part in the ISU Challenger Golden Spin of Zagreb in Croatia. Liam O’Brien was named as a recipient of a Milano Cortina 2026 Olympic Scholarship and wrapped up 2023 with back to back World Cups in China and South Korea.

2024 promises to be an even more exciting year for the ISAI as the pace picks up on the development of Ireland as an ice skating nation both domestically and on the international stage.

Tkacheva Receives Kingspan Kickstart Sports Fund Award

Sophia Tkacheva has been named as a recipient of a Kingspan Kickstart Sports Fund award. The County Wexford based figure skater will be presented with €1000 through the fund which has been created to assist up and coming athletes on the island of Ireland achieve their goals.

“Being awarded this scholarship is like a window of opportunity opening up for my figure skating career,” Tkacheva said. “Of course, I had hopes for the scholarship, but I never thought they would become a reality and I am so thrilled that they did! Now some of the barriers that I’ve faced in this sport will be easier to get around and I am so honoured to be rewarded in such a way for doing something that I really cherish. I would also like to thank the ISAI for alerting me to this scholarship.”

“I cannot think of a more deserving athlete than Sophia to benefit from this fund,” ISAI President Seán Gillis said. “Despite the challenging journey she has faced in her skating career, she has shown true dedication to her sport. I know that Sophia will put this fund to great use in helping reach her full potential.”

Judge 16th; Tkacheva 11th at Tayside Trophy

Dillon Judge and Sophia Tkacheva were in action this weekend at the Tayside Trophy in Dundee, United Kingdom representing Ireland in the Scottish city.

In his international debut as a senior competitor, Judge began the event with his short programme skated to “Smile” by Nat King Cole. He opened with a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination, stepping out of the landing on the double toe. He fell out of a triple toe loop subsequently and his change foot camel spin was graded Level 1. He cleanly landed a double Axel and his change change foot combination spin, flying sit spin and step sequence all received Level 3. His score of 43.30 put him in 15th place overnight.

Judge chose to perform to “My Homeland” by Havasi for his free skating. At the top of his routine he landed a triple toe loop, a triple Salchow-double Axel sequence and a solo double Axel in quick succession. He followed through with a Level 4 flying sit spin and a triple Salchow. His change foot spin and step sequence both garnered Level 2, while he closed out his programme with a Level 3 change foot combination spin. He posted a score of 84.30 for the free which gave him a total of 127.60 and placed him in 16th overall.

This was Tkacheva’s second competition of the season and she showed significant progress in both segments. She commenced her “Bust Your Knee Caps (Johnny Don’t Leave Me)” by Pomplamoose short programme with an attempted double Axel that was underrotated. She then landed a double flip-double toe loop combination and executed a Level 4 flying sit spin. She also performed a double Lutz and finished her programme with a Level 4 change foot combination spin. She scored 35.68 points and was ranked in 12th place at the midway point of the event.

The two-time Irish Junior champion started her Romeo and Juliet medley free skating inauspiciously with a fall on a double Axel, an underrotated triple Salchow and another fall on a double Lutz-double toe loop combination. However, she settled back into the routine with a Level 4 layback spin and then landed a double loop and double loop-Euler-double Salchow jump sequence. Tkacheva concluded her performance with her choreo step sequence, a Level 3 flying change foot sit spin and a Level 2 change foot combination spin. A free score of 54.78 points left her with a total of 90.46 points and she moved up to 11th place in the final standings

Tkacheva Finishes 32nd at Istanbul Junior Grand Prix

Sophia Tkacheva has made her 2023/2024 season debut at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Istanbul, Türkiye and placed 32nd in the Junior Women’s event.

The two-time Irish junior champion skated on the first day of competition in the short programme. Performing to “Bust Your Knee Caps (Johnny Don’t Leave Me)” by Pomplamoose, she attempted a double Axel and a triple Salchow to begin, but unfortunately fell on both elements. She next completed a Level 2 flying sit spin and a Level 1 layback spin. She singled a planned double Lutz jump which meant that she received no points for that elements. She closed out with a Level 1 step sequence and a Level 3 change foot combination spin. Her score for the short was 21.88 which put her in 33rd place overnight.

The following afternoon the County Wexford skater was back at the Silivrikapi Ice Rink for the free skating. She was unveiling her new free, a Romeo and Juliet choreographed by her coach and two-time European bronze medallist Kevin van der Perren. Initially, she valiantly attempted the double Axel and triple Salchow that had not come off in the short. Although they did not come off again this time, she rallied with a double Lutz-double toe loop jump that received full value from the judging panel. She also received positive grades of execution for her Level 2 layback spin and choreographic sequence. She earned a free score of 49.35 points which is a new ISU personal best and placed her 30th in the free. Her total score was 71.23 points.

You can catch Tkacheva’s performances below:

Short Programme

Free Skating

Tkacheva Glides Into New Season At Istanbul Junior Grand Prix

Sophia Tkacheva (County Wexford) is the first Irish figure skater to compete this season as she takes to the ice this week in the Junior Women’s event at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Istanbul, Türkiye (6-9 September).

Tkacheva will first skate in the short programme, which opens proceeding at the event on the morning of Thursday, 7 September. She will be back on the ice the following afternoon (Friday, 8 September) for the free skating.

“Over the summer, I got a new free programme, choreographed by my coach Kevin van der Perren,” Tkacheva said. “This will be my first time skating it at a competition, so my main goals for the JGP in Istanbul will be show this new programme and all the skills and elements that come with it to the best of my ability. I am aiming to be expressive and show emotion through my skating while also concentrating on the technical aspect of my skating.”

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 2023/2024 season marks the 26th 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 Istanbul, Türkiye will be broadcast live on the ISU’s dedicated YouTube channel. Direct links for each of the segments Tkacheva will skate in are as follows:

Junior Women Short Programme (7 September)

Junior Women Free Skating (8 September)

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

Seven Figure Skaters Named To 2023/2024 National Team

A total of seven athletes will represent Ireland internationally in figure skating competitions in the 2023/2024 season.

Dillon Judge claimed his first senior national title in June this year. He is now permanently based in Bergamo, Italy where he works with Barbara Luoni at Ice Lab as his main coach.

“This season I’m very excited about being on the National Team, with it being my first at Senior level this opens up more opportunities and experiences for me to grow as a skater,” Judge said. “In addition, this season will be my first full season with my new team of coaches, choreographer and I will be debuting two new programmes. Obviously, this adds new challenges, but I’m confident in myself and my team to make the biggest step forward in my skating career so far. Being surrounded by athletes with the same goals and aspirations makes it even easier to strive for success.”

Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus are first time National Team members. They won the first Senior Ice Dance event ever held at the Irish Figure Skating Championships back in June. They are coached by Carol Lane, Jon Lane, Juris Razgulajevs and Marc Andre Servant in Toronto, Canada.

“It’s an immense privilege for Shane and I to be able to represent Ireland on the international stage,” Soucisse said. “We cannot wait for the season to begin!”

“I’m super excited to be selected for the national team this season, and to have the opportunity to represent Ireland on the world stage,” Firus added.

Sophia Tkacheva picked up the second Junior title of her career at 2023 Irish Nationals. She includes eleven-time British champion Jenna McCorkell and two-time European bronze medallist Kevin van der Perren in her coaching team.

“I am very excited to be selected for the Irish National Team this season,” Tkacheva said. “This opportunity will give me the chance to exhibit my hard work over the summer and a chance to attend international competitions, such as the Junior Grand Prix in Istanbul.”

Ciera Turner-Frick finished second in the Junior Women’s event last season’s Irish championships. This is her first time to be chosen for the National Team. She is coached by Jane de Lange in Oxford, England.

“I am delighted to be selected for the National Team and excited to compete in my first ever Junior Grand Prix in October,” Turner-Frick said.

Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty took their second Junior Ice Dance national title in June. They are currently under the tutelage of Taavi Rand who is based in Tallinn, Estonia.

“I am very happy to be selected to the National Team again this season,” Laura Hegarty said. “Skaters and ISAI officials often travel as a group, take transport together from the airport to competition accommodation, travel to official practice etc. Although times can be tense around competitions, I always have a great time with fellow team members. The support from the National Team is amazing.”

“This is my second year as a Junior and second time to be selected to the National Team,” Kevin Hegarty said. “The experience we had last season was great. The team spirit is always so high. I enjoyed competing at international events with my fellow team members.

“I hope that Laura and I can improve each technical element during this season. At the same time, we hope to polish the flow of our whole performance as an ice dance programme.”

National Team Members (Figure Skating):

Senior Men – Dillon Judge (County Dublin)

Senior Ice Dance  – Carolane Soucisse/Shane Firus (County Wexford)

Junior Women – Sophia Tkacheva (County Wexford), Ciera Turner-Frick (County Cork)

Junior Ice Dance – Laura Hegarty/Kevin Hegarty (County Dublin)

You can learn more about our national team members here.

Irish Figure Skating Championships Wraps Up Skating Season

This weekend (17-18 June) brought the top Irish figure skating talent to the Dundee Ice Arena in Dundee, Scotland for the 2023 edition of the Irish National Figure Skating Championships.

On the opening day competition, champions were crowned in the Senior and Junior ice dance categories.

Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus (Co. Wexford) made history by becoming the first Senior team to compete at the event. They first performed their rhythm dance to ‘Perdiendo el Control’
by De La Ghetto x Marco Acevedo and ‘Quererte Bonito’ by Elena Rose & Sebastián Yatra. They executed a Level 4 twizzle sequence, Level 4 partial steps and Level 4 rotational lift as well as garnering Level 3 for their midline step sequence scoring 63.84 points.

Soucisse and Firus came back for their free dance which they skated to ‘Hier Encore’ and ‘La Bohème’ by Charles Aznavour. They included Level 4 straight line and Level 4 rotational lifts and a Level 4 dance spin in their performance. Both skaters also earned Level 3 for their diagonal step and one foot turns sequences. They were awarded a score of 96.66 points by the judging panel to give them a combined score of 160.50 points and their first national title.

“Irish Nationals was such a unique and special experience for Shane and I,” Soucisse said. “The warm welcome and support we received from the athletes and members of the federation was absolutely fantastic. Joining the ISAI was the best decision we have made, not only for our skating career but also because we feel like we gained a new family! I would like to thank all members of the ISAI for the unforgettable memories we have made here and for all the ones to come.”

“Irish Nationals was an absolutely amazing experience and we were blown away with how welcoming and warm the ISAI were,” Firus said. “All of the members of the ISAI welcomed us with open arms and made Irish Nationals an experience that we will never forget. For me it was a particularly special moment as growing up my Nana from Gorey, County Wexford always talked about Ireland and how she missed the people. After this past weekend it’s easy to understand why. When we stood at the top of the podium being the first Irish Senior Ice Dance Champions, I was filled with pride thinking of how lucky we are to represent such an incredible country. What made this historic moment even more special were the individuals who shared this moment with us. It was as emotional for them as it was for us.”

2022 champions Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty (Co. Dublin) were competing again this year in the Junior ice dance event. They opened with their rhythm dance to ‘Sombrero Blanco’ from the Mask of Zorro soundtrack by Mala Rumba and ‘Assassin’s Tango’ from the Mr. and Mrs. Smith soundtrack by John Powell. Their routine consisted of five elements with the highest scoring ones the Level 1 diagonal step sequence (5.92) and a Level 2 rotational lift (3.47). They scored 26.55 points for the segment.

Hegarty and Hegarty followed with the free dance to ‘Harem’ by Sarah Brightman. They began with Level 2 and Level 1 synchronised twizzles respectively for Laura and Kevin with a Level 2 dance spin in quick succession. They achieved Level 3 for their rotational lift and Level 1 for their diagonal steps. Their free score of 46.29 points was a big new personal best and also gave them a career best total of 72.84 points for their second Junior title.

The ice and all the conditions for the competition were very good,” Laura Hegarty said. “We started the day very early in the morning, but we were able to skate comfortably. Nationals gives us the chance to see other skaters and it’s nice to cheer each other on.”

“The entire experience was great and it was nice to see our fellow skaters again,” Kevin Hegarty said. “The organisers of the competition were very welcoming, even though it was only our second time visiting. The support from the people watching was also great.”

Dillon Judge (Co. Dublin) moved up to the Senior men’s event this year and commenced his competition on the opening day with his short programme to ‘Smile’ by Nat King Cole. He started off with a cleanly landed triple Salchow and then attempted a triple toe loop combination which resulted in a fall as did an attempt at a double Axel. He posted Level 3 for each of his three spins and Level 2 for his step sequence. He scored 36.04 points for his short.

In the free skating, Judge landed a triple Salchow and back that up with a double Axel. He garnered Level 3 for his flying sit spin and his step sequence in his Jamie Callum medley programme. He racked up a free score of 71.83 points to give him a total of 107.87 points and a first Senior Men’s national title.

“Irish Nationals was a good way to end off this season, with winning my first Senior Irish National title, getting to skate my new short programme, the team building and meeting the new Irish skaters,” Judge said.

Sophia Tkacheva (C0. Wexford) took the lead in the Junior women’s short programme with her routine to ‘Bust Your Knee Caps (Johnny Don’t Leave Me)’ by Pomplamoose . The 2020 champion went for a double Axel, but fell on the jump. She rallied with a double Lutz-double toe loop combination and a solo double loop. Both her layback spin and change foot combination spin garnered Level 4. She stood in first place overnight with a score of 34.48 points.

Ciera Turner-Frick (Co. Cork) in her first appearance at an Irish Championships attempted a double Axel to start her performance, but she also fell. She did recover to land a solo double loop and double flip-double toe loop combination. She closed out her short with a Level 4 change foot combination spin. Her score of 27.01 points put her in second place going into the free skating.

Tkacheva launched into her free skating to “Voila” by Barbara Pravi with a double flip-single Axel sequence. She next attempted a double Axel, but fell on the element. She recovered to reel off two solo double loops and closed out her routine with a Level 4 layback spin. She received a free score of 57.37 points which put her in first place overall with a total of 91.85 points. This is her second Junior National title.

“My experience at Nationals this year was amazing,” Tkacheva said. “I got to skate my last competition of the season and meet all the new skaters that competed here. My expectations for my result were set relatively low considering I’m still recovering and coming back into shape from an injury that had put a stop to my training and competing for two months but regardless of the stress fracture I still went onto the ice and skated my best. It was a great way to end this competitive season and I’m proud of how I was able to focus on my skating and performance.

“This was my last time skating this free programme and I really wanted to pour everything I had into that last skate and I think I did just that. I really loved this programme and I’m glad that the last time that I skated it turned out the way it did. This is the second time that I’ve won Junior Nationals and I was overjoyed to receive this title. As I’ve already said I didn’t expect to come out with the result that I did and winning nationals is a great way for me to end this season and a really proud accomplishment.”

Turner-Frick began her free skating with a double loop and landed a single axel immediately afterwards. She next completed two combination jumps – double flip-double toe loop and double Lutz-double toe loop. The technical panel graded her change foot combination spin Level 4. A mistake on a double Lutz towards the final stage of her programme saw her fall. She scored 52.95 points in the free which gave her an overall score of 79.96 points and second place.

“I really enjoyed meeting all the other Irish skaters and competing at my first Nationals,” Turner-Frick said.

Saoirse O’Sullivan (Co. Tipperary) made her Irish Nationals debut in the Advanced Novice girls category. She laid down a single Axel to begin her short programme and followed with double flip-double toe loop combination. She earned Level 3 for her sit spin and change foot combination spin. She scored 22.97 points.

O’Sullivan embarked on her free skating with a double flip and then a double flip-double toe loop combination. She then succeeded in landing a double loop-single Axel-single Axel sequence and executed a Level 3 flying sit spin. She fell on a double loop later on in her routine, but was able to come back with a Level 3 change foot combination spin to finish. Her free score was 42.49 which gave her a combined total of 65.46 points for first place.

“I can’t express how special this experience has been for me – becoming Advanced Novice Irish Champion 2023 has been a dream come true and I will always remember this amazing feeling,” O’Sullivan said.

2023 Irish National Figure Skating Championships Results

Archived Live Stream

Day 1 Morning

Day 1 Afternoon

Day 2 Afternoon

 

Top Irish Figure Skaters Set To Compete At National Championships

For the second year in a row, the Irish National Figure Skating Championships will take place at the Dundee Ice Arena in Dundee, Scotland. The event will be held over the course of two days (17-18 June) with eight skaters in five separate categories taking to the ice.After winning the Junior Men’s title twice, Dillon Judge (Co. Down) moves up to contest the Senior Men’s event for the first time. Earlier this year, he began working with his new coach Barbara Luoni at Ice Lab in Bergamo, Italy, an ISU Centre of Excellence.Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus (Co. Wexford) will be making their Irish Championship debut this weekend. This marks the first occasion a Senior Ice Dance event has been included in the championship programme. The team train in Toronto, Canada with Carol Lane, Jon Lane, Juris Razgulajevs and Marc Andre Servant.Sophia Tkacheva (Co. Wexford) claimed the Junior Women’s silver medal at last season’s championships. She previously won the title back in 2020. Her coaches are two-time European medallist Kevin van der Perren and eleven-time British champion Jenna McCorkell.Ciera Turner-Frick (Co. Cork) is making her first appearance at the Irish Championships where she is entered in the Junior Women’s event. She is coached by Jane de Lange in Oxford, England.Laura Hegarty and Kevin Hegarty (Co. Dublin) made history this season by becoming the first ice dance team to represent Ireland in an ISU competition when they participated at the Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel, France last August. Their coaching team is comprised of Lea Rand and Taavi Rand.Saoirse O’Sullivan (Co. Tipperary) is a first-time competitor at Irish Nationals and she is entered in the Advanced Novice Girls category. She trains with three-time Irish champion Sam McAllister and Margaret O’Neill in Nottingham, England.Regular updates from the Irish National Figure Skating Championships will be posted on the Ice Skating Association of Ireland’s social media accounts.Results Page

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.