MOSCOW: Conor Stakelum made history in Moscow on Wednesday when the ginger-haired Dubliner became Ireland’s first male competitor in the 117-year history of the European figure skating championships.
The 24-year-old hails from a family steeped in the more traditional Irish sport of hurling, but he became hooked on ice skating after a trip to a temporary rink back in 2005.Twelve years later, he stepped onto European ice skating’s biggest stage at the Russian capital’s Megasport rink to become only his country’s second ever representative at this level after Clara Peters who competed in the last of her four European Championships at Sheffield in 2012.
Dressed in a sparkling all-black tunic Stakelum performed his short program to John Corigliano’s The Red Violin.Watched by his mother and sister, Ireland’s four-time national champion failed to replicate his best form to earn a modest score of 43.05.
“That was fun going out as the first ever male skater for Ireland, but I’m very disappointed.“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,” he said.
Stakelum, who last year graduated from his microbiology degree with first class honours at University College Dublin, comes from “hurling royalty” as the Irish Times newspaper noted last year, with both his father Richie and uncle Conor winning All-Ireland titles with Tipperary.
Having been bitten by the ice skating bug and with Ireland’s sole permanent ice rink in Dundalk closing in 2010 he was forced to take time out from his studies and move to Dundee to train with British coaches Simon and Diana Briggs.