Scottish ice skaters have strong start to new season after scoring top marks in British qualifiers

Scottish ice dancer Lewis Gibson looks set for international success with partner Lilah Fear this year after the couple scored a personal best at their first competition of the year.
Former British champion Danielle Harrison from Dundee ranked first in the qualifying competition in Sheffield.Former British champion Danielle Harrison from Dundee ranked first in the qualifying competition in Sheffield.
Former British champion Danielle Harrison from Dundee ranked first in the qualifying competition in Sheffield.

Gibson, from Prestwick, and Fear racked up a combined score of 199.52 for the rhythm and free dances in the qualifying competition for the British national championships on the first outing for their new programmes, skated to music from the Blues Brothers and Madonna's Vogue. The pair had a highly successful breakthrough season last year, when they ranked sixth in the European Championships in Minsk and 13th in the World Championships in Japan.

The Qualifier 2 competition in Sheffield was one of three official qualification championships in which a skater can achieve the minimum mark required to take part in the British Figure Skating Championships in December.

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Gibson said: "The qualifiers were a great first event for us this season and a good opportunity to show our new programs early in the season and receive feedback from the judges. We feel like we have a good base to work from leading into this season."

In the senior ladies event, 2015 British champion Danielle Harrison, from Dundee, was ranked in first place with a competition score of 139.38, followed closely in second place by Katie Powell, who trains at Murrayfield ice rink in Edinburgh.

Like Gibson and Fear - as well as Harrison's senior ladies teammates Natasha McKay and Karly Robertson - who also train in Dundee - Harrison is a Great Britain Performance Team member and therefore gains automatic entry into the British Senior Championships.

Ice Dundee coach Simon Briggs said a strong outing at the qualifier was a "good start" for the upcoming international competition season.

He said: “This qualifier has brought great success for our skaters at all levels. I believe this shows the depth of talent that there is in Dundee from the grassroots through to senior elite level with skaters achieving success at all levels.

"Our skaters will all continue to work hard to qualify for the upcoming British Championships, and we are looking forward to seeing how the year progresses for them all.”

In the mens' competition, PJ Hallam from Sheffield broke a British record in his category. He performed two triple axels in the first minute of his programme, earning him a score of 215.05 - the highest score ever achieved by a British man.

He said: "At Sheffield Q2 I broke the British record with a score of 215.05. This was at my first event of the season and i cannot wait for more to come. The programs are still very fresh and I'm excited to settle into them."

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The next qualifying competition - the only one to take place outside of Sheffield - will be held in Dundee in October.

Gibson and Fear have been selected to compete in two Grand Prix events this season: Skate Canada and the NHK Trophy in Japan.

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