New Scottish pairs team scoops national title at British Figure Skating Championships

A new Scottish pair skating team has scooped the British title at their first ever national championships – while the top spots in the women’s and ice dance competition were also won by Scots.

Britain's Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson compete during the pairs ice dance free dance event at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating NHK Trophy in Tokyo in November.

Anastasia Vaipan-Law and Luke Digby, who train at Dundee Ice Arena, narrowly beat veteran competitors Zoe Jones and Christopher Boyardji, who have held the title for the past four championships, by just 0.51 points at the British Figure Skating Championships in Sheffield, scoring a total of 141.91 points.

The women’s competition was won for the fifth time by Dundee training mate Natasha McKay, who scored a personal best in the short programme, while another Dundee skater, Karly Robertson, a former British champion, took the silver.

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In the ice dance competition, Paisley-born skater Lewis Gibson and his partner Lilah Fear won gold for the fourth time with a personal best combined score of 200.84, ahead of a season which will see them likely to compete – alongside Ms McKay - in the Olympic Games in Beijing in February. The final Olympic team will be decided by the British Olympic Committee in the coming weeks.

Pairs team Anastasia Vaipan-Law and Luke Digby, with coaches Simon and Jason Briggs.

Ms Vaipan-Law and Mr Digby, who both previously competed as solo skaters, teamed up to compete together for the first time this season. Despite their win, it is likely that second place competitors Zoe Jones – who at 41 is one of the oldest competitors ever on the competitive figure skating circuit – and partner Christopher Boyardji, from Swindon, will be chosen to represent Team GB at the European and World Figure Skating Championships early next year due to previous scores.

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Ms Vaipan-Law and Mr Digby said: “We can't quite believe what we have achieved here tonight. We started our journey together in 2020, worked hard off-ice during lockdown and then on ice again when that was possible. This season, we had our international debut and were able to gain some competition experience. This past year and a half we have worked really hard and to be able to hold this trophy up tonight and crown ourselves British Pairs Champions in our first ever pairs championships is just incredible."

Ms McKay said: "I am so proud to have won my fifth British Championship title. After the cancellation of last years British Championships, I am just so happy to be back doing what I love."

Mr Gibson said that the couple, who train at the prestigious Ice Academy of Montreal in Canada, had made changes to their programme to increase the levels of difficulty during the season. The pair won a bronze medal at the NHK Trophy in Japan – part of the Grand Prix series – last month.

He said: “It was our first time breaking 200, so that felt like a great accomplishment. We’ve kept building the program through the season and tweaking choreography as we go and we’ve really felt the momentum pick up and are so happy with our skate here today.”

In the women’s competition, another Dundee skater and former British champion, Danielle Harrison, came in fifth, while in the men’s competition, which was won by Romford’s Graham Newberry, with 212.52 points, saw Dundee skater Elliott Thompson win bronze. Former men’s champion, PJ Hallam, from Sheffield, scooped the silver.

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