Gibson and Fear qualify for World Championship free skate as McKay gives season's best performance

Lewis Gibson, pictured with partner Lilah Fear, said he was pleased with the couple's score in the rhythm dance in Japan.
Lewis Gibson, pictured with partner Lilah Fear, said he was pleased with the couple's score in the rhythm dance in Japan.
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Scottish ice dancer Lewis Gibson and his partner Lilah Fear today qualified for the free dance final in the World Figure Skating Championships in Japan - despite a minor error which saw them fall short of their personal best score.

The couple, who placed sixth in the European championships in Minsk, Belarus, in January, are currently standing 16th in a strong field of competitors from North America and China, as well as Europe.

Meanwhile, Natasha McKay from Dundee, placed 21st in the ladies's competition, achieving a season's best of 95.16 in he free skate and an overall score of 151.56. She was first to skate in the competition, which was won by Alina Zagitova from Russia, with an overall score of 237.5. Teammate Evgenia Medvedeva was third and Kazakhstan's Elizabet Tursybaeva second.

She said: "I was delighted to qualify for the free skate and to maintain my 21st place after the free skate was great. I have had a wonderful experience and gained valuable experience at these championships. Now I am looking forward to a small break and then preparing new programs and new elements for next season."

In the ice dance competition, current European and World champions, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillome Cizeron, who train with Gibson and Fear under coach Romain Haguenauer in Montreal, stand in first place after the short programme.

They were awarded 68.46 for their rhythm dance programme - just short of their personal best of 69.77, which they achieved in Minsk. Gibson slipped on the twizzle section of the programme, which consists of a sequence of one foot turns, but told The Scotsman he was pleased with the score. The ice dance competition will conclude with the free dance tomorrow. Gibson, from Prestwick and Fear have been praised by judges and fans alike for their free dance this season, which is performed to a medley of disco tunes by Donna Summers.

Gibson said: "We are really happy with our skate. Despite the mistake on my twizzle, we are pleased with the score. We're looking forward for the free dance tomorrow."

The ice dance free dance competition will take place tomorrow in Saitama, Japan.