Meet Lewis Gibson
From Scotland to England and now Montreal, Canada, ice dancer Lewis Gibson is making his mark on the world one country at a time. One-half of the now infamous #DiscoBrits, Lewis is a two-time British national champ alongside partner Lilah Fear - and they're just getting started. This team has incredible speed, incredible artistry, and best of all, incredible fun out there on the ice! Lewis is creative, kind, and is always learning and striving to improve, whether that's as a skater, a spin instructor, or an artist. Read on to learn more about Lewis' path to ice dance, what it was like being at the Olympics as part of the Ambition Programme, and his tips on how to get and stay fit inside and out!
Birthday: May 1st, 1994 (24 years old)
Born: Prestwick, Scotland
Hometown: Prestwick, Scotland
Currently: Montreal, Quebec, Canada / London, England
Country: Great Britain
Skating Club: Alexandra Palace London
Discipline: Ice Dance
Partner: Lilah Fear
Training Location: Montreal, QC, Canada @ Centre Gadbois / London, England @ Alexandra Palace Ice Rink
Coach: Romain Haguenauer, Patrice Lauzon / Karen Quinn, Alan Abretti
Sliding onto the podium like... (Photo by British Ice Skating)
Q: You were born in Prestwick, Scotland, and grew up playing football - how did you stumble upon the wonderful world of figure skating?
A: I found figure skating after watching a TV show in the UK called Dancing On Ice, hosted by Torvill and Dean. It was far from football, but I loved that it just looked fun. I went along to my local learn-to-skate in Scotland and never looked back.
Q: It's so cool that you competed in singles, pairs, AND ice dance - and I think you might be the only person (or one of the only people) to have medaled at British Nationals in three different disciplines?! (Novice gold and bronze in pairs with Heather Murdoch, senior silver in men's singles, and of course senior gold and silver in ice dance with Lilah Fear.) What are some of your favorite things about each discipline, and is the competitive environment different for each?
A: I'm not sure about being the only person who ever medaled in all three disciplines in the UK, but it's certainly not done often nowadays. Yeah, competing in both singles and pairs before moving into ice dance has definitely allowed me to learn skills that I can transfer over to dance. Something I miss from singles is the freedom of skating alone, being able to change the steps on the fly haha or generally just not thinking about being in time with someone else. However, I can say that eventually, I found my discipline in dance. The competitive environments are pretty similar, but I do feel that dance seems to have more of a family vibe to it.
From singles to pairs to ice dance, Lewis has done it all! #GreatBritain
Q: How did your partnership with Lilah come about, and how did you guys end up deciding to split your time training between Alexandra Palace in London, England, and Gadbois in Montreal, Canada?
A: Eventually I was persuaded to try dance by our federation, and so I started looking for a partner. Lilah had just split up with her previous partner so the timing worked out for us to give it a shot. We had previously known of each other through skating at the Toronto Cricket Club in the summers. After deciding to skate together, I moved down to London where our journey began. In the UK, we train with Alan Abretti and Karen Quinn. Lilah had solo dance choreography from Romain Haguenauer when she was younger, so they already had a relationship, which was great. Whilst Lilah was still in high school, we split our time training between London and Montreal; this season we have generally spent most of our time in Montreal.
Q: As a native Scotsman, what are the biggest differences and difficulties you've found, in terms of culture, between Europe and North America?
A: The biggest struggle for me is my accent haha. I find when living in Canada I generally talk a lot slower to be understood, and sometimes even Lilah has to translate my English. The funny thing is I don't even have a strong Scottish accent.
Lilah and Lewis last year in PyeongChang, South Korea, experiencing the Olympics
through the Ambition Programme
Q: This past February, you and Lilah had the amazing opportunity to be part of the British Olympic Association's Ambition Programme, where both of you, alongside only five other #TeamGB members, actually got to go to PyeongChang 2018 and experience the Winter Games. Tell us all about that experience! Did it make the possibility of competing at Beijing 2022 seem that much more real?
A: Absolutely, to have been given the opportunity to witness the Games firsthand was surreal. Just the scale of the whole event was incredible and being able to see things like the Athletes Village and events was invaluable. We got to watch the short dance, and that was great for us to be able to cheer on our Montreal teammates and see them all skate so well. I think the biggest learning for us is that once you are in the arena, it feels no different to any other event; that's something we can take with us wherever we skate.
A: I really like helping people who are willing to push themselves. The first step is just showing up, and that can be difficult for some people. But once everyone is in the room and the music is on, it's amazing what can happen. I currently also teach skating and really enjoy it, just being able to share and gain knowledge is great.
Lewis x Spinning - and pictured with three-time Olympic gold medalist ice dancer Tessa Virtue, when she took a class from Lewis last week.
Q: The 2018-19 season has been treating you guys very well, with top six finishes at every competition (including Europeans and both your Grand Prix assignments) so far. How has this season felt different from the past two, and do you feel more pressure now that you've established yourselves as serious medal contenders?
A: It has been super fun to compete this year, we really enjoy skating both programs, and to be getting the results for our hard work is very motivating. I think what makes this year different from the past would be our programs. We are able to engage a lot more with the crowd, and that just makes competing even more enjoyable.
Q: I also hear that you're an amazing artist - can you share your hidden talent with us? What kind of art/medium do you like, and is it just a hobby or something more?
A: I enjoy design in general, whether it just be viewing art or coming up with new ideas. I recently started going to a life drawing class in Montreal, as I was hopeless when I was at school, so I'm enjoying the challenge and escape of that. I drew this dog a couple of years ago for one of our off-ice instructors as a gift for her birthday.
Lewis' hidden talent - art! This doggy looks like it could jump off the page!
Q: Staying healthy - both physically and mentally - is so important not just as an elite athlete, but as a human being in general. What advice would you give to those who are trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle?
A: The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone is just START. Find something that you enjoy doing and that is fun to you because everyone enjoys different things and moves in different ways. And once you have found what works for you, just build a routine around that.
Q: So we know you have your sights set on the Olympics, but what other goals - both in skating and personally - do you have for yourself?
A: For skating, we really hope to keep on improving each season and bring programs that people would enjoy watching, but more importantly we enjoy performing. For myself, I'm just moving forward with an open mind, as I didn't see myself teaching spinning five years ago or living in Canada, so you just don't know what the future can hold.
Lilah and Lewis strutting their stuff the past few years (Photos by Mikhail Sharov, Koki Nagahama via ISU/Getty, Natalie Fedosenko via TASS/Getty, Jamie Squire via ISU/Getty, Luciano Movio Photography, Miguel Medina via AFP/Getty)
Favorite program you and Lilah have done?
It has to be the disco FD
If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It's not a meal. But my known weakness is cookies.
What is your greatest fear?
It would be regretting not doing something because I feared the potential risk of it. Just go for it!
Favorite skating element to perform?
I love the choreo elements in the free dance. The fact you have a choice and the freedom to be able to perform to the music is great.
Top three songs on your spin class playlist?
1. "Wild Horses (Sam Feldt Remix)" by Birdy
2. "Rather Be feat. Jess Glynne (Merk & Kremont Remix)" by Clean Bandit
3. "Another Chance (Don Diablo Chill Mix)" by Big Pineapple
One of the best spin instructors you'll ever meet!
Last book you read?
12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson
Go-to core exercise?
It has to be the classic plank - but make sure to add some movement, whether it be the arm or leg lifting off, or even both at the same time.
Best gift you've ever received?
This one is tricky but a recent unexpected gift was at the NHK Trophy banquet when we received Beats headphones for our placement.
Which pattern dance fits your personality the best?
I only know the three we have performed, and I would say all are too restrictive haha. But the one I enjoyed the most would be the Midnight Blues.
Quote to live by?
I guess Nike said it best with “Just do it." Keep it simple and things will work out.
KEEP UP WITH LEWIS
Team Instagram: @lilahandlewis
Team Facebook: Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson
Check out our interview with Lewis' lovely partner, Miss Lilah Fear, here.
All other photos courtesy of Lewis Gibson