World Figure Skating Championships: Gibson and Fear head into ice dance final in eighth place

Scottish ice dancer Lewis Gibson and partner Lilah Fear said they were ‘grateful’ to be back on the ice in international competition for the first time in a year as they go into the final of the World Figure Skating Championships in eighth place.

Great Britain's Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson perform during the ice dance programme event at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm on March 26, 2021. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)

The couple, who finished 13th last time they competed in the competition two years ago, said they were proud of their score in the rhythm dance, adding that it had set them up well for tomorrow’s free dance final. Historically, the couple have usually ranked higher after the free dance than in the rhythm dance, paving the way for a strong placing tomorrow.

Prestwick-born Gibson told The Scotsman: “Sometimes in the past, we’ve had to climb our way back up [from the rhythm dance] but it was good and we’re really proud of that. We want to just go and have fun and enjoy our last goal of the season.”

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The couple, who train at the prestigious Ice Academy of Montreal in Canada, scored 77.42 in the rhythm dance – a personal best, beating their previous highest score which they were awarded at the Skate Canada Grand Prix two years ago, when they scooped a bronze medal.

In first place is European champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov from Russia, with a score of 88.15.

The World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, has been the first major competition in the sport in over a year, after last year’s event, which was due to take place in Montreal, but was cancelled at the last minute due to the pandemic.

Fear said: “As we stepped out there on the ice for the warm up, we just looked around and were like ‘we get to compete!’. Just taking that in, we really enjoyed the moment.”

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The event is being held without an audience, while the skaters are in a competition bubble and are tested for Covid-19 throughout the week.

She added: “I noticed it was a little quiet as we took our starting position, but we had some training mates in the audience and they made sure to make some noise, which we really appreciated, but once you get going, it’s kind of a bit of a blur, so whether there’s a crowd or not it’s hard to pay attention to that. We had a lot of well wishes from home and we really feel the love from around the world.”

Gibson said: “Throughout the week, to be back at an event and going to practices, you feel so grateful to be able to do that again.”

Many of the world’s top ice dance teams, including Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue from the US, who are in second place after the rhythm dance, train in Montreal alongside Fear and Gibson.

Fear said: “Our coaching team have been so supportive during this time and have given us a milestone - whether it’s simulation, or just doing our performance in costume or videos - and we have such encouraging and motivating training mates, so the energy has been there the whole season.”

She added: “It’s nice to feel we have a solid foundation going into the free dance.”

Dundee sakter Natasha McKay is to compete in the ladies’ final tonight.