Scots ice dancer scores season's best at first Grand Prix of the year

Scottish ice dancer Lewis Gibson and his partner Lilah Fear have come fifth in their first ever Grand Prix competition, placing them in the top tier of international ice dance pairs.

Lewis Gibson and Lilah Fear ranked fifth at the Skate America Grand Prix.
Lewis Gibson and Lilah Fear ranked fifth at the Skate America Grand Prix.

The couple ranked fifth in the rhythm dance competition at Skate America with a score of 64.18 and 105.99 in the free dance, placing them fifth with an overall score - their season's best - of 170.7.

Gibson, from Prestwick and Fear from London, were also selected to take part in the prestigious gala event at the competition - one of six Grand Prix events during the season.

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First place went to Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue from the US, while the silver and bronze medals were awarded to Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri from Italy and Russia's Tiffani Zagorski and Jonathan Guerreiro respectively.

Skate America, held in Everett, Washington, is the first of two Grand Prix competitions this season in which the couple have been invited to participate, with the Japanese NHK Trophy due to take place next month. The Grand Prix are a series of six senior international figure skating competitions organised by the International Skating Union (ISU).

The couple's short dance programme - a tango rhythm prescribed as this season's set piece by the ISU - has not been as well received by judges in previous competitions as their free dance, which draws on music from the 1970s disco era, meshing songs by Donna Summers.

Gibson said: "We are both super happy with our performances and placing at our first senior Grand Prix event. To finish in 5th place was really great for us. We managed to beat our overall personal best score by 10 points, which was a massive step forward. The crowd were fantastic - they got really behind us in the practices and in the competition - we could really hear that they loved our disco program."

Gibson, 24 and 19-year-old Fear, who train in Montreal under renowned French coach Romain Haguenauer and also have a base in London, are also tipped to be British champions when they compete for the national title at the end of November.

If they win the British title, they will compete for Great Britain in the European Ice Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus, in January and the World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, early next year. The pair last year placed 24th in the World Championships, but have hopes to progress up the world ranking over the next four years to peak at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Last month, Gibson told Scotland on Sunday how he hoped the Grand Prix would be the start of international success for the pair, who have skated together since 2015.

"With the opportunity to compete on the Grand Prix circuit this year, we feel like we have made a strong step forward," he said. "It feels like a way to begin establishing our name on the highest level of the competitive figures skating circuit."

He added that the pair hope to increase their international rankings over the coming years to be in line to compete for a medal at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.