World Figure Skating Championships: Fear and Gibson smash expectations with seventh place finish

Scottish skater Lewis Gibson and partner Lilah Fear smashed expectations to finish seventh in the World Figure Skating Championships – winning two Olympics spots for British ice dancers.

Great Britain's Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson perform during the ice dance programme event at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm.

The ice dance couple scored 119.5 in the free dance with their programme to music by Madonna, taking their total score combined with the rhythm dance to 196.92 – both a personal best and one place higher than their rhythm dance finish.

The placing should mean that British ice dancers are granted two spots in next year’s Winter Olympics, with the second place likely to be taken by Fear’s sister, Sasha Fear and her partner George Waddell.

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The competition was won by Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov from Russia with a huge score of 221.17, with Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue from the US taking silver and Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier bronze.

Fear said: “We’re really, really happy with our skate. It was an interesting atmosphere to perform in and it wasn’t negative in any way.

Gibson, from Prestwick, said that the pair will explore new programmes for next season, which will include the Winter Olympics in Beijing. This year’s World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm is the first major competition in a year, after the event was cancelled last year shortly before the world went into lockdown due to Covid-19.

He said: “We’re going to have new material [next season], there’ll be a new rhythm dance, so we’re super excited to try that out and explore some new free dance material.

“We had a year to train and improve ourselves and we still want to build on that moving forwards.”

Fear added: “I think if we kept that [same] programme, our training mates would not be too happy, hearing the same songs. We really love Vogue and we’re happy with that as our last performance.”

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On their return to their training base in Canada, the couple need to quarantine for two weeks, before recommencing their training at the prestigious Ice Academy of Montreal under coach Romain Hagueneur.

Although Olympic places need to be confirmed, 80 per cent of places are allocated at the World Figure Skating Championships before an Olympic year, with a couple who place in the top ten allocated two places for their country. Fear’s sister, Sasha and her partner – who also train in Montreal - were the reserve skaters for the World championships and look likely to win the second place.

Fear said she was happy to give her younger sister a chance to compete in the Winter Olympics.

She said: "She’ll have the chance to qualify for the second spot now, so I’m really happy to give her that opportunity in any way possible and I know she works very hard, so I’m excited for her.”

Gibson said: “It will be great for Great Britain as a country to have as many athletes given a chance to compete at the Olympics.”

The mens’ championship was won by American Nathan Chen earlier in the day. The British competitor, PJ Hallam, did not qualify for the final.

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