Scots skater looking ahead to Beijing after fifth place finish at Europeans

Scots ice dancer Lewis Gibson and partner Lilah Fear say they are looking ahead to their “dream” of competing in the Beijing Winter Olympics next month after a disappointing free skate which saw them slip to fifth position at the European Figure Skating Championships.

Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson perform during the Ice Dance Free Dance program of the European Figure Skating Championship in Tallinn.
Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson perform during the Ice Dance Free Dance program of the European Figure Skating Championship in Tallinn.

Meanwhile, Dundee skater Natasha McKay gave her best-ever performance in a European championships, finishing in 17th place in a competition which saw 15-year-old Kamila Valnieva take gold ahead in a clean podium sweep for Russia. Her score was 21.64 points higher than silver medal winner – teammate Anna Shcherbkova – in a record margin in a major competition.

Fear and Gibson had been eyeing a podium finish after a strong rhythm dance yesterday in Tallinn, which left them in fourth place. However, a mistake in the twizzle sequence in their free dance performance saw them slip to sixth in the free dance just behind Spaniards Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin, ranking fifth overall with 196.01 points.

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Their overall score was less than one point behind fourth place Spanish national champions and Fear and Gibson’s training mates at their Montreal base, Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz, who cemented their spot at the Olympics after scoring higher than Hurtado and Khaliavin.

Natasha Mckay ranked higher than ever before in the European Figure Skating Championships.

The ice dance competition was won by Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikolai Katsalapov with 217.96 points overall, with teammates Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin in second. Italian couple Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri won the bronze medal.

Gibson, from Prestwick, described the Winter Olympics as “everything that I hoped and dreamed of for a long time”.

Fear added: “Now we're getting closer and closer and I just think it's going to be a huge honour.”

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The pair said they had been motivated by the possibility of a European medal, but said they would focus on preparing for Beijing.

Fear said: “We aren’t disappointed about the close results, but with the mistake with the twizzles. Overall we are still pleased, these are all stepping stones and of course, our big goal is Beijing.”

“I think we're really taking what we want from this competition. We’re just trying to solidify the consistency of the technique, because that's where we lost a lot of points today, and we know we can do it. So we're just going to be really strict with ourselves and hardworking.”

McKay, who stood in 19th place after the short programme, came 16th in the free skate with a score of 104.67, ending the competition with a combined score of 161.74. Her previous highest placing was 18th, in 2017.

Valieva, who landed three quadruple jumps in the free skate, scored 259.06 points, with Shcherbkova taking silver and Alexandra Trusova in the bronze medal position.

Aleksandra Golovkina, who trains in Dundee, but skates for Lithuania, earned a personal best total score of 142.2 points, ending in 22nd place, two places higher than her short programme result.

Fear's younger sister, Sasha Fear, who skates with George Waddell, also for Team GB, finished the ice dance competition in 15th place – moving up a place from their rhythm dance standing – with a personal best of 99.6.

McKay will compete alongside Fear and Gibson at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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