The first ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Courchevel, France this weekend provided a showcase for Ireland’s largest ever team to be fielded in this series.
Robyn Foster (18) was the first member of Team Ireland to take to ice at the Patinoire du Forum on the opening day of competition in the Junior Women’s short programme. The Irish Junior national champion attempted a double Axel to start and also included a double flip-double toe loop combination and a double loop in her routine to “A Time For Us” by Nino Rota. She scored 33.03 points to sit in 24th place overnight.
The following evening Foster was back for the free skating. Once more she attempted a double Axel to start and followed that up with a cleanly landed double Axel-double toe loop combination. A flying sit spin received a Level 4 from the technical panel and she earned a segment score of 58.75 points. Her combined total of 91.78 points saw her move up to finish in 23rd place.
“I’m happy that I didn’t give up and I persevered to land my double Axel, but I now know I definitely need to work on my spins and continue to make my triples strong enough to put in my programme,” Foster said. “The event itself was very well organised and I enjoyed being a part of it, especially getting to represent Ireland.”
Dillon Judge (18) was the veteran of the team as this was his second season on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. He performed in the Junior Men’s short programme on the first evening of competition and debuted his new routine to “Englishman In New York” by Sting. He nailed a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination to begin with and then attempted a triple loop, a new element for him this season. He also went for a double Axel and secured a new ISU personal best score of 35.10 to place 19th at the midway point of the competition.
Judge had a day’s break between the short and the free skating which took place earlier this morning. He attempted two triple Salchows (one on its own and one in combination) and two double Axels in his routine. Even though he had to fight for some of his elements, he worked as hard as he could right to the end. He posted a free skating score of 48.43 points which gave him a total of 83.53. He remained in 19th place.
There were lots of mistakes in the programmes which is to be expected at the start of the season, especially with a new programme,” Judge said. “However, during the short the jumps were good considering it was my first time attempting two triples in it increasing the technical difficulty.
“For the next Junior Grand Prix, I am going to work on my spin consistency within the programme as that was the main place I lost points.”
Laura Hegarty (16) and Kevin Hegarty (19) made history in Courchevel as they became the first ice dance team to represent Ireland at an international event. On the second day of competition, the siblings from Dublin skated in the rhythm dance to Sombrero Blanco (Flamenco) and Assassin’s Tango and included a diagonal step sequence, sequential twizzles and two sections of the Argentine Tango pattern in their routine. They scored 20.36 points which put them in 11th place at the end of the first segment of their category.
This afternoon Hegarty and Hegarty were back on the ice for the free dance. Skating to “Harem” by Sarah Brightman, they garnered Level 3 and Level 4 for their synchronised twizzles and also achieved Level 2 for a rotational lift later on in the programme. Their free dance score of 34.25 points improved on their personal best from the national championships in May and they kept 11th place with a total of 54.61.
“Although it was difficult to skate in such a high level competition, we performed to the best of our abilities,” Laura Hegarty said.
“Our main problem was endurance and stamina,” Kevin Hegarty said. “We plan to work on our cardio and overall strength for our Junior Grand Prix in Gdansk, Poland. We will try to improve our edges and general performance as well.”
All of Team Ireland’s performances at the Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel can be viewed on the ISU Junior Grand Prix YouTube channel.