Scottish ice dancer Lewis Gibson and his partner Lilah Fear smashed their personal best in the free dance at the NHK Trophy grand prix in Japan this weekend, ending up fourth overall. The pair were ranked second in the free dance section with a score of 113.29 - far above their previous grand prix score of 105.99 at Skate America last month.
Fear and Gibson came fourth overall with a combined score of 177.2 after scoring 66.27 in the rhythm dance section, putting them in seventh place after their first skate. They were ranked behind US winners Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, while second place went to Tiffani Zagorski and Jonathan Guerreiro from Russia and third to US brother and sister team Rachel and Michael Parsons.
Their free dance routine, which draws on music from the 1970s disco era, meshing songs by Donna Summers, has been well-received by both judges and audiences since they debuted it internationally at the Ondrej Nepala Trophy in Slovakia in September.
The prestigious Grand Prix are a series of six invitation-only international figure skating competitions organised by the International Skating Union. The NHK Trophy is the fourth of the series - and the second and last for which Fear and Gibson were selected.
Prestwick-born Gibson told The Scotsman: “We are both super happy with our result in Japan. We got a massive new personal best of 113.29 in the free dance and 177.2 overall. To have got a standing ovation for our disco free dance is something we could only have dreamt of before.”
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 this month.
If they win the British title, they will be set to 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.
First place winner Baker skates for the US, but was born in the UK and is the son of former GB Olympic skater Sharon Jones Baker.