Sunday, 28 April 2013

The 2013 Irish National Figure Skating Championships

Considering it's geographical proximity to Great Britain, a country steeped in skating tradition and its rich history, it's very surprising to realize that Ireland is one of the new kids on the ISU block. However, with a spirited and enthusiastic crew of organizers, judges, officials and skaters, Ireland's skating federation, the Ice Skating Association Of Ireland (ISAI), is quickly raising the profile of a lovable sport in their country and Irish eyes are definitely smiling at superb Salchows, spirals and spin combinations.

On April 28, Irish skaters converged on the Dundonald International Ice Bowl in Belfast, Ireland for the 2013 Irish National Championships, with seven different events being contested throughout the day. Clara Peters won the senior ladies title yet again with a score of 95.43, while the senior men's gold medal went to Brendan Dorrian, with a score of 93.07. Junior men's gold was won by Conor Stakelum, with a score of 94.76 (the second best in the entire competition) and the junior ladies title went to Deirdre Feagre, with a total score of 43.68.

Sean Gillis, the Communications and Media Director for ISAI, explained "figure skating is a very young sport in Ireland and with a relatively short history compared to places like Canada, the US or Russia. We are very much at the beginning of our journey as a sport in this country. However, being able to hold an annual national championships as we have for the past number of years has been hugely important in raising the profile of figure skating here. There has undoubtedly been a lot more coverage in the local media due to this and we hope that this will translate into increased interest and funding for the sport. Of course, getting more people to take up skating is another goal of ours and the lessons that the ISAI has run the past few winters at temporary rinks have introduced the sport to a whole new generation who we hope will go on to develop and compete for Ireland internationally."

Their skaters are achieving some great things already in international competition. Clara Peters, the reigning senior ladies champion, may be lacking in the triple jump count but what she lacks in technical difficulty she has certainly made up for in her sensitivity to music and well choreographed programs. Four times, she has represented Ireland at both the World Figure Skating Championships and European Figure Skating Championships, her best result at the World Championships coming in 2012, when she placed 29th in a field of 51 ladies skaters. Peters will be among the skaters vying for an Olympic spot this fall at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany. The first skater to represent Ireland internationally, Peters currently trains in the U.S. under the tutelage of Karen and Ron Ludington. This is her fourth Irish national title.


Brendan Dorrian began his skating career skating for Great Britain, placing in the top ten at the British National Championships more than once before deciding to represent Ireland and winning their national title, a feat he duplicated again this year. Having started skating at the age of ten, Dorrian is surely another Irish skater who hopes to realize his Olympic dream by competing and qualifying in the Nebelhorn Trophy competition this fall.

With so many new nations taking up the sport competitively, it is absolutely heartwearming to see people across the globe flocking to the ice. Like music, skating is universal and I sincerely hope to see Ireland's skating program and skaters continue to develop and receive more funding and support in years to come - and that the pot at the end of the rainbow is filled with gold medals.

For more information on skating in Ireland and its history, please visit Considering it's geographical proximity to Great Britain, a country steeped in skating tradition and its rich history, it's very surprising to realize that Ireland is one of the new kids on the ISU block. However, with a spirited and enthusiastic crew of organizers, judges, officials and skaters, Ireland's skating federation, the Ice Skating Association Of Ireland (ISAI), is quickly raising the profile of a lovable sport in their country and Irish eyes are definitely smiling at superb Salchows, spirals and spin combinations.

On April 28, Irish skaters converged on the Dundonald International Ice Bowl in Belfast, Ireland for the 2013 Irish National Championships, with seven different events being contested throughout the day. Clara Peters won the senior ladies title yet again with a score of 95.43, while the senior men's gold medal went to Brendan Dorrian, with a score of 93.07. Junior men's gold was won by Conor Stakelum, with a score of 94.76 (the second best in the entire competition) and the junior ladies title went to Deirdre Feagre, with a total score of 43.68.

Sean Gillis explained "figure skating is a very young sport in Ireland and with a relatively short history compared to places like Canada, the U.S. or Russia. We are very much at the beginning of our journey as a sport in this country. However, being able to hold an annual national championships as we have for the past number of years has been hugely important in raising the profile of figure skating here. There has undoubtedly been a lot more coverage in the local media due to this and we hope that this will translate into increased interest and funding for the sport. Of course, getting more people to take up skating is another goal of ours and the lessons that the ISAI has run the past few winters at temporary rinks have introduced the sport to a whole new generation who we hope will go on to develop and compete for Ireland internationally."

Their skaters are achieving some great things already in international competition. Clara Peters, the reigning senior ladies champion, may be lacking in the triple jump count but what she lacks in technical difficulty she has certainly made up for in her sensitivity to music and well choreographed programs. Four times, she has represented Ireland at both the World Figure Skating Championships and European Figure Skating Championships, her best result at the World Championships coming in 2012, when she placed 29th in a field of 51 ladies skaters. Peters will be among the skaters vying for an Olympic spot this fall at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany. The first skater to represent Ireland internationally, Peters currently trains in the U.S. under the tutelage of Karen and Ron Ludington. This is her fourth Irish national title.

Brendan Dorrian began his skating career skating for Great Britain, placing in the top ten at the British National Championships more than once before deciding to represent Ireland and winning their national title, a feat he duplicated again this year. Having started skating at the age of ten, Dorrian is surely another Irish skater who hopes to realize his Olympic dream by competing and qualifying in the Nebelhorn Trophy competition this fall.

With so many new nations taking up the sport competitively, it is absolutely heartwearming to see people across the globe flocking to the ice. Like music, skating is universal and I sincerely hope to see Ireland's skating program and skaters continue to develop and receive more funding and support in years to come - and that the pot at the end of the rainbow is filled with gold medals.

For more information on skating in Ireland and its history, please visit http://isai.ie/about/history.

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