By Matteo Morelli | Photos courtesy Robin Ritoss and Fear/Gibson
Team IDC would like to welcome Matteo Morelli as the newest member of our staff. You can learn more about Matteo and all of our team members via the Team IDC page.
Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson have been skating together since 2016 representing Great Britain. The 2019 Skate Canada bronze medallist couple reveals details about their partnership, working with the Ice Academy of Montreal, and reflects on the past season.
What age did you both start skating?
LF: I started skating at two years old but just for fun. At the age of six, I started skating a bit more regularly and by the age of 10 was competing as part of the solo dance series in the UK as well as doing free skate. We spent our summers in Canada visiting both sides of the family, so were also exposed to Canadian clubs and coaching from a young age.
LG: I started skating at the age of 11 after watching Dancing on Ice at home in Scotland. Up until then, I was very involved in football but once I started skating, I knew that was what I wanted to do.
You have been skating together since 2016. Did you know each other before then?
We actually did know each other before teaming up in 2016. In the summer, we both skated at the Toronto Cricket Club and so we knew each other a bit from there. Lewis was a MUCH better free skater. He was always in the advanced sessions, therefore we didn’t spend much time together. We were so lucky to get to do stroking sessions at the Cricket Club and were able to learn from Brian Orser, Tracy Wilson and Andrew Hallam some very important skating skills.
Despite it being a fairly new partnership, you have already achieved impressive results. What routine do you follow?
We have always had a really good working relationship, which I think has helped us progress. There is quite a big age difference which is perhaps helpful because we are not necessarily in the same circles off the ice, which allows us to have a productive, professional relationship on the ice. We have mutual respect for each other and have similar core values too. There are many different formulas for good partnerships and we feel lucky to have one that works well for us.
Do you get on well on and off the ice?
We get on really well on and off the ice. We are always able to share a good laugh and we have different areas of interest off the ice that allow us to learn a lot from each other.
What do you like most about skating with your partner? Is there any curious or funny aspect that you would like to share with us?
LF: The thing I like most about Lewis is his creativity and industrious motivation in all that he does. He is also extremely witty and helps me remain calm and grounded when I become stressed.
LG: The thing I like most about Lilah is how positive and driven she always is. In days when I feel tired or a little down, she’s always there to lift my spirits.
Ice dance in the UK had its golden years with Torvill and Dean. Do you find them inspirational? Do you have any other skaters that inspire you?
We are absolutely inspired by everything about Torvill and Dean, from their journey to their accomplishments to all that they have done since. They redefined our sport and being a tiny part of their legacy is a huge honour. We are inspired by so many skaters and ice dance teams.
LF: I am inspired by Scott and Tessa and Gabriella and Guillaume as well in ice dance. In singles, I love Sasha Cohen and still remember how starstruck I was upon meeting her at Torino 2006.
LG: In ice dance, I’m inspired by all of the teams that we get to train with here in Montreal. Each team has their own unique traits that you can pick up on and be motivated by each day. My absolute favourite free skater of all time is Daisuke Takahashi. His movement on the ice is like no other, and he is so free and flamboyant. I am very much looking forward to his ice dance debut!
You train at the prestigious Ice Academy of Montreal. How do you work with your coach, choreographers, and the other teams?
We feel so lucky to train at the Ice Academy of Montreal. We work with the team of coaches there, all of whom have different perspectives and add value through different areas of expertise. We find this wonderful and given our limited backgrounds in dance, we learn so much each and every day. Before teaming up, Lewis had never done ice dance and Lilah had only had a couple of year experience in junior. The teams that train in Montreal are equally inspiring. There is so much talent on the ice each day and this motivates us and we learn from all of our training mates. The most important thing is the sense of community, mutual respect and support.
Your Vogue programme is considered iconic and received a huge appreciation from the public. How did this engaging dance come together?
Thank you so much for your comments about our free dance this year. We were so pleasantly surprised by the support for this program. We had decided on the music, with so much respect for Madonna and her body of work. Although we did not grow up during the height of her career, we have admired her creativity with Vogue in particular, we really love the song. The choreography was done by the amazing Romain Haguenauer, with a lot of input from the fabulous Sam Chouinard and the rest of the coaching team, so we really can’t take credit for that.
The ISU rightly decided to cancel the 2020 World Championship in Montreal due to the pandemic situation. It came as a shock for everyone and especially for the Ice Academy Montreal teams, which were looking forward to compete in their hometown. How did you receive the news and how do you feel about it?
Initially, we were utterly shocked to hear that Worlds 2020 in Montreal was cancelled. We and the rest of the skaters, not to mention the organising committee, ISU and volunteers, had put in so much hard work. We were also really excited to show off Montreal, as we absolutely love the city and know that Skate Canada and the ISU would have put on a wonderful competition. Once we had processed the new reality, in the context of the global health crisis, of course we were more concerned about health and working together to get this pandemic under control. It’s hard to believe that it would have been two weeks ago. It seems like so much more time has passed.
What memories do you cherish the most from this season?
We have so many memories that we cherish from this past season. A couple of particular highlights would be winning our first Grand Prix medal at Skate Canada in Kelowna. With so much family in Canada, Lilah had a big cheering squad and it was very emotional to receive this medal with them in the audience. We also really loved going to the Shanghai Trophy. The experience both on and off the ice was very rewarding. Lastly, we always love competing at the British Championships, as we both have our families with us and we love seeing everyone again on team GB.
Lewis, you have launched a fantastic initiative called ICE+DANCE, which started in London in 2019 with Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis coaching other skaters. How did you come up with this idea and what does the future hold for this project?
LG: ICE+DANCE is something I have always wanted to start, in part because I love coaching, but also in part because, now that I do ice dance and have learned so much, I can share these skills with the skating community. Bringing in the world champions, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, was so exciting for me and for the skaters in the seminars. They brought such a wealth of experience and expertise. I hope to continue doing these seminars in the future.
Lilah, you have a podcast called “The Lilah Jo Show”. Season 2 is “the season of ice skaters” and offers interviews with your fellow skaters, including Nathan Chen, Kaitlin Hawayek, Guillaume Cizeron, Gabriella Papadakis, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Madison Hubbell. You have a way of making them feel comfortable that allows you to probe deeper into their lives. Do you think you will be doing more of this?
LF: Thank you for bringing up my podcast, “The Lilah Jo Show.” I started this a couple of years ago, wanting to delve into the lives of people who are exceptional in their job or an area of their life and to explore their journey to excellence. This season, I am getting to know a selection of the world’s skaters and again learning about their stories and getting to know them off the ice. I study psychology at McGill University in Montreal and am interested in human development and performance and feel this feeds into my podcasts. I really enjoy doing the interviews!
Finally, what are your objectives for the new season?
Our objectives for the next season and beyond are to continue to work hard and improve. We have so much to learn and so much to develop, which we find exciting and we are lucky that we are having a lot of fun along the way. We are honoured to be a part of Team GB and I.AM and really appreciate your taking the time to interview us. We know you are involved in the NHS in the UK fighting the Corona Virus. To take the time to interview us is much appreciated and we are so thankful for all that you are doing.