Cork skaters Rory Fitzpatrick and Leah Bradley will represent Ireland in the Ice Cross World Championship in Austria in January.

Cork skater to break the ice in new sport

A young skater from North Cork is about to become the first woman to represent Ireland in a sport that involves hurtling down an icy slope at up to 80km/h.

Next month, Leah Bradley from Charleville will strap on a pair of ice skates and some hefty body protection when she competes for the first time in the Ice Cross World Championship.

To help cover travel costs, Leah, who works at the ice rink at the Marina Market, has set up a GoFundMe page which has reached over €1,000.

The dangerous sport involves four skaters at a time racing down a 700 metre track peppered with obstacles and bends.

This year the competition takes place in Judenburg, Austria on 20 January where a team of three Irish athletes, all from Cork, will compete.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Leah says she has been a fan of skate-related sports since she was small. “When I was younger, I was really into rollerblading, ice-skating, anything like that,” she explains.

“I tried out for the ice hockey team first and then I tried out for figure skating, and I just really loved it. I've done that for the past 6 years or so,” adds Leah.

When ice hockey player Rory Fitzpatrick joined Leah’s figure skating club, Cork Figure Skating Association, they became pair skaters and soon Leah was introduced to the new world of ice cross.

“I really enjoy it because there's so much speed, you can go really, really fast,” she says.

“To be honest, it's a hard one to train for but most of the people who do ice cross are ice hockey players because it's not a very common sport, people are usually just competent skaters when they sign up.

“You don't need to have training in going downhill,” adds Leah.

Asked if she likes the extreme elements of the sport, Leah says she does and that she rests assured that she will be well protected if and when she takes a tumble.

“It's quite likely that you can fall over - like - to be honest, I'll probably fall,” she laughs.

“You have a lot of protection, you're wearing a motocross helmet and body armour basically, and then hockey kneepads and hockey pants that have a tailbone protector,” adds Leah.

Leah will be travelling to Austria with a small Irish team consisting of Cork skaters Rory Fitzpatrick form Carrigaline, and Ben O’Sullivan from Glounthaune.

Being the first Irish woman to compete in the sport, Leah says she hopes more will follow in her footsteps.

“I hope that me doing it will encourage more people to do it and find out about it because a lot of people don't know ice cross exists,” says Leah.

As well as the generous donations from her GoFundMe page, Leah is also receiving some funding from MTU.