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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 15 August, 2018
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Conor Stakelum becomes first Irish man ever to skate at European Championships

In the 117 years of the competition, there has never been an Irish male skater.

Image: Screengrab/Eurosport

Source: Brau Avitia 2/YouTube

CONOR STAKELUM BECAME the first ever Irish man to compete at a European Figure Skating Championship this morning.

He took to the ice in Moscow for his short programme just after 9am, scoring 43.05 for his routine.

That is broken down into a ‘Technical Elements’ total of 20.19 and a ‘Presentation’ score of 22.86.

He was second to skate out of a field of 37 men, which includes two-time world champion Javier Fernandez.

The top 24 competitors after today’s skating will progress to the next and final round of the championships where they will perform their long programmes.

Stakelum’s score, unfortunately, will not be enough to put him into that category.

It was a gruelling two-and-a-half minutes in the rink for the 24-year-old Dubliner as he skated to music by John Corigliano.

Out of the blocks early, he nailed a triple toeloop, triple toeloop combination – one of the most difficult elements of his programme – scoring the full base value of 8.80 and a positive grade of execution (GOE) of 0.20.

He singled out of his next jump, due to be a triple loop, which ultimately hurt his final score leaving him with little hope of qualification and well off his personal best of 50.69.

The rollercoaster continued and he went on to land a double axel (the only forward-facing jump skaters perform) and doing well on a fly-sit spin before another slip in his camel spin.

He showed a fighting spirit, delivering a well-executed step sequence and combination spin to finish out his debut performance.

While waiting for the judges’ scores in the so-called Kiss and Cry area, his choreographer Andrew Smith could be heard telling him he should be proud of his achievements today, a belief his coach reiterated on Twitter this afternoon.

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“That was fun going out as the first ever male skater for Ireland, but I’m very disappointed,” Stakelum told reporters after his routine.

I made a mistake that I don’t ever make on the spin, don’t know what it was, I’m quite a calm person, but I lost concentration.

“I started skating quite late, I want to keep going, I’m very disappointed but I’ll live. My goal now is just to get better.”

Stakelum’s aim when moving to Scotland to train fulltime was to qualify for today’s competition, ending Ireland’s 117-year drought in the sport.

He has received some media attention of late, with most outlets mentioning the hurling royalty in his family – his father Richie and uncle Conor both won All-Irelands with Tipperary. However, his sporting interests were only piqued when he visited a temporary rink in 2005.

At 12 years old, he was late taking up the sport, a decision further complicated by the fact that Ireland has had no permanent ice rink since 2010.

He moved to Dundee to be coached by Briggs, taking time out of his studies. However, he did graduate with a first-class honours microbiology degree from UCD last year.

Clara Peters was Ireland’s first ever skater at the European Figure Skating Championships, competing four times before 2012.

With reporting by AFP 

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