Fear & Gibson (F&G)

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World Figure Skating Championships 2020 cancelled in Montreal.

This week’s world figure skating championships in Montreal are cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19, the announcement made by Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann had skaters around the world nervously tuning in.

The Ice Academy of Montreal said “We have decided that under the current circumstances, we need to focus on our core activity – training the world’s best Ice Dancers. This is what we are committed to do and we are positive that next season we, the Ice Academy of Montreal, along with all skaters on the global circuit, will emerge on new heights of excellence.” They went on to say…

“This event was conceived as a tribute to the amazing spectators whose support is cherished by the skaters of the Ice Academy of Montreal. Despite the circumstances, we express our enduring gratitude to the many fans who make Figure Skating great. Thank you for supporting us and our beautiful sport.”

GB Ice Dance couple Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson F&G, are heart-broken about the Championships being cancelled, not only because the world championships are the traditional punctuation mark on the competitive season but the biggest event in a non-Olympic year! Regardless, the ice dance couple will be training harder than ever to compete, win – both astounding and inspiring us with their strength, style and poise.

The championships were scheduled to run March 16-22 at the Bell Centre. McCann made the announcement at the legislature in Quebec City, and said a number of factors went into the decision.

In January this year F&G celebrated after being placed fifth at the 2020 European Championships in Graz, Austria.

F7G Team GB

2016 our British ice dance champions are ranked 28th in the world and they both have the same goal: to reach the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. Fear and Gibson got a taste of the Olympics in 2018 when they were taken to the Winter Games in PyeongChang as part of the Team GB Ambition program for potential future Olympians.

Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson

“It was so exciting,” said Gibson. “We got to watch the short dance and the men’s short program. Just to be exposed to that, it really made us hungry to get there ourselves.”

The British team cannot help but feel the influence of the legendary Torvill and Dean. Fear says “Even if people in Britain don’t know what ice dance is, you just say Torvill and Dean and they get it,”. “They have been a huge influence on us and for so many skaters from Great Britain … they’re just iconic. We got to work with them one morning a couple of years ago at our rink in London. It was very interesting to see how they work together, and how creative they are.”

Lilah and Lewis, for the first two years of their partnership, were coached by Karen Quinn at the Alexandra Palace Ice Rink in London, and Haguenauer in Montréal. But once Fear finished high school, they made the move to Canada permanently. “I’ve known Romain since I was maybe 10 years old. He choreographed for my solo dance career and when he was still living in France, we would meet and he would do my choreography,” Fear explained. “When I started with Lewis, we came here at one point just to get some guidance and we really felt it was the right place to be.”

Added Gibson: “We’re very thankful he was willing to work with us from the beginning. I had been a singles skater and I had no clue about ice dancing. We have some video footage of that and it’s …

“Shocking,” Fear interjected with a laugh.

A singles skater for five years, he won a few medals along the way. But there was one huge goal that Gibson had in mind and, as the men’s discipline rapidly evolved and the quad revolution took off, he knew he would not be able to keep up. For me, it was about the goal of competing at the Olympics — that’s something that I always had,” he said. “In singles skating, the quads were really becoming a thing a few years ago and now it is the thing. I didn’t see myself getting them, so I decided to try ice dance.

While Gibson was working his way toward becoming an ice dancer, Fear had been immersed in it for much of her life. She and her family moved to London when she was 2 years old and she began learning to skate at age 5. Eventually, she joined the solo dance program run by the British federation that helps skaters who aspire to be ice dancers.

Fear partnered with Jacob Payne for the 2013-2014 season, winning the British novice title. A year later, they were bronze medalists at the junior level. But by 2016, the partnership had run its course — which happened to coincide with Gibson’s decision to try his hand at ice dance. “I had seen Lewis before. The funny thing is, we had both trained at the Cricket Club in Toronto. Not together, but we had been there at the same time for a few summers,” Fear recalled.

In 2017, finishing 22nd at the World Championships, and 15th at the Europeans. “I was very young for seniors in my first year. I think at our first World Championships I was the youngest person in our category,” says Fear. “But I think that really forced us to progress quickly because we were against such talented and experienced skaters and we had to immediately try and get up to that standard.”

Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson

However, 2018 has been Gibson and Fear’s breakthrough year. In October, they were invited to compete at Skate America, the first event of the ISU Grand Prix calendar. They finished fifth in a field that included World Championship medallists, before going one better at the NHK Trophy in Japan in November. At the latter, they placed second in the free dance section to a standing ovation. “We were thrilled to even get invited to the Grand Prix events in the first place,” says Fear.

deepedges

Amateur ice dancer and skiing enthusiast.

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