The Irish National Figure Skating Championships organised by the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) took place over the weekend at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, County Antrim with the cream of Irish skating talent taking to the ice in eleven different categories. The skaters were greeted and cheered on by an exceptionally enthusiastic and vocal audience with many making the trip specially to attend the event.
Clara Peters made an impressive comeback after several months away from competition rehabilitating an ankle injury. Skating to the “Downton Abbey” soundtrack for her free skating, Peters went for a triple Salchow and also landed two beautiful double Axels. She finished her routine to great applause and was awarded her sixth national Senior Ladies title.
Conor Stakelum also performed exceptionally to win his second Senior Men’s gold. Stakelum landed three different varieties of triple jumps (flip, toe loop and Salchow) in his free programme and displayed the great technical strides he has made in working in Dundee, Scotland with Simon Briggs and his coaching group.
The Junior Ladies was contested between Ciara Hoey and Fianait Bligh over two segments. After the short programme, Hoey held a slight lead over Bligh with it all to play for in the free which was the finale for the championships as a whole. Bligh fought valiantly all the way to the end of her routine, but it was not quite enough to catch Hoey. This is Hoey’s second Junior Ladies title in a row and Bligh’s silver is her first national championships medal.
In Advance Novice men, Alex Bowker Lonnecker was once again the victor while Aaron Rowley wrapped up his third Novice B Men’s gold in succession. Sophia Tkacheva from Wexford showed her development by winning the Novice B Ladies’ event after coming second last year.
Ice skating continues to grow in popularity as a recreational and competitive sport in Ireland and the ISAI looks forward to hosting an even larger National Championships in 2015.