Photo by Harumi Akabane
Great Britain’s Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson are entering their third season as a team. They are two-time competitors at the World Championships and will debut on the ISU Grand Prix series at the 2018 Skate America. They took a few minutes to answer some questions for IDC before they head off to their first international event of this season – Ondrej Nepela Trophy in Bratislava, Slovakia. Thanks Lilah & Lewis!
IDC: Tell us about your individual skating journeys.
LF: I started skating at just 2 years old, as I come from a Canadian family of skaters. My mom skated competitively throughout her childhood and my uncle was a professional ice hockey player. At first, I was mainly attracted to the sparkly dresses, however, my love for the sport developed after I moved to London and was first exposed to ice dance at Queens Ice Rink. I started out doing free skate as well however I always gravitated towards the artistry and technical detail of ice dance.
LG: I started skating at 11 years old, after watching the first series of Dancing on Ice, which is a UK television show that pairs celebrities with professional skaters. The series is hosted by Torvill and Dean. After watching just one series, I knew I wanted to try skating and was immediately drawn to the feeling of gliding across the ice.
IDC: What drew each of you to ice dance?
LF: Great Britain has a very developed solo ice dance circuit to inspire people to pursue dance despite not having a partner. I competed on this circuit from age 8 to 15, at which time I was paired up with my first partner. Even without a partner, I loved learning the compulsory dances although I don’t recommend attempting the Yankee Polka as a 13 year old solo dancer.
LG: I initially tried all three skating disciplines. I skated singles all the way up to senior, finishing in 2015. I also tried pairs and was the 2010 British Novice Pairs Champion. The British federation encouraged me to try ice dance which lead to my partnership with Lilah.
IDC: How did you became partners?
LF: After my first partnership ended, our federation suggested the try out and we very quickly felt a sense of teamwork, a mutual drive and passion for the sport.
LG: In singles, I always preferred the component side of skating and for me at the time, I felt I had reached my full potential. As Lilah said, the federation encouraged me to try dance. This lead to some tryouts, and with Lilah also looking for a new partner. Our paths crossed and the rest is history. We did already somewhat know each other because over the years we had spent our summers at the Cricket Club in Toronto.
IDC: Tell us about splitting your training time between Great Britain and Montreal and what a typical day looks like.
LF: We are very lucky to have solid roots and excellent coaches in the UK and here in Montreal and feel fortunate to have such an amazing support network. It is so inspiring and motivating to be among many of the best in the world on a daily basis in Montreal.
LG: We train a few hours on the ice before heading to off ice sessions.
IDC: This season, you will compete on the ISU Grand Prix series for the first time. What does this mean to you?
LF: We are so thrilled and honoured to be representing Great Britain at our very first Grand Prix at Skate America. An added bonus is that we will have the guidance of our wonderful training mates, Madi [Hubbell] and Zach [Donohue].
LG: Zach and I are roommates here in Montreal, so it will be great to have them with us in Everett.
IDC: How did you come up with your choices for your programs this year?
LF: For our short dance, our choreographer, Romain Haguenauer, saw us interpreting the tango with a flamenco flavour. We finish with “Volare” which is more recognizable and is fun for both us and the audience.
LG: Our free dance is an homage to Studio 54 and the era of disco. In addition to being music we love, we wanted to challenge ourselves with a genre that is completely different to anything we have tackled in the past. We absolutely love skating to it every day and this certainly makes doing run throughs much more enjoyable!
IDC: Is there one program you prefer over the other?
LF: There are aspects of both programmes that we appreciate. The short dance allows us to explore a more serious and mature side of our personalities and we love the technical intricacy of the Romantica.
LG: On the other hand, we enjoyed working with Romain in our Free Dance to construct a programme that conveys the electricity and freedom of disco.
IDC: What are you looking most forward to this season?
LG: We continually look forward to training every day as we love our programmes so much and the environment in which we work.
LF: We hope to carry this momentum through to big milestones in our season such as Skate America and NHK Trophy.
IDC: Is there anyone you look up to as a role model?
LF: Growing up in the UK, the admiration for Torvill and Dean is undeniable and we have been very lucky to have worked with them as well. They accomplished so much in their career and have inspired so many young skaters to pursue this amazing sport and they continue to inspire me. With my Canadian roots, I grew up in awe of Tessa [Virtue] and Scott [Moir]. I read and reread their biography after receiving it for Christmas when I was 11, so training alongside them over the past two years has been unbelievable. Quite frankly, my training mates here in Montreal are all enormously talented role models who inspire me daily.
LG: My all-time skating idol has to be Daisuke Takahashi. The way he is able to move to music and set himself apart from his competitors has always impressed me. I am so excited that he is coming back to competitive skating. More recently, being able to skate alongside so many driven and elite skaters everyday continues to motivate and inspire me.
IDC: What is your favorite thing about skating with each other?
LF: Lewis is incredibly creative and such a natural dancer, so he pushes me to develop these qualities even more.
LG: Lilah has a very calming and positive influence which makes our partnership so productive and natural.
IDC: How do you spend your free time?
LF: I will be starting at McGill University in September where I will be studying Psychology and Communications. After taking a gap year, I can’t wait to get back in the classroom to cultivate my love for these subjects. On a lighter note, I love exploring new cities and finding the best brunch spots and cafes.
LG: In my spare time, I enjoy art, whether it be drawing or enjoying art in my surroundings. I’m also a spinning instructor, which involves creating a vibe in the studio where everyone is connected to the music and motivated toward a common goal.
IDC: What about your podcast, the Lilah Jo Show?
LF: I started developing my podcast, The Lilah Jo Show, a year ago as a passion project during my gap year between high school and starting university. On the podcast, the mission is to explore the journey to excellence, which starts with the pursuit of passion. This passion may be uncovered as a result of an intense experience or it may be something that was ever-present from a young age. My guests have all excelled in their chosen crafts and I hope to provide a window into the roots of these achievements. Often they have also had to overcome extreme obstacles, which is even more inspiring. I am fascinated by the power of passion and how, along with resilience, it can drive a person to accomplish almost anything. My goal is to encourage listeners to pursue whatever it is they desire, no matter the setbacks, starting now, as teenagers and young adults.
You can listen to Lilah Fear’s The Lilah Jo Show on iTunes.