British ice dancers Lewis Gibson and Lilah Fear turned the 2023 NHK Trophy competition into retro night and came away with the gold.
During the ISU Grand Prix event in Osaka, Japan, Gibson (who spoke publicly for the first time about being gay prior to the 2022 Olympics) and Fear got off to a strong start. The duo earned a second-place finish in the rhythm dance with a routine set to a mix of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and “Here Comes the Rain Again.”
It was an inspired choice. The iconic synth chords from “Sweet Dreams” are dance-floor summoners on their own, so Gibson and Fear choosing the song for their rhythm dance was a natural.
The pair performed their routine to Annie Lennox’s soaring vocals with vigor and panache. They finished with a seasonal best score of 84.93, with their level-four twizzles earning particularly high marks.
Following the dance, Gibson appeared content but already had an eye on their next routine.
“We are both happy and with our performance and will continue to build our program,” he said, according to GoldenSkate.
Meanwhile, Fear was captivated by the emotion of the moment, exclaiming, “I am still shaking! The energy was so electric!”
Then they brought the house down with a free dance to medley of songs from various “Rocky” soundtracks such as “Gonna Fly Now” and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”
From the tolling bell to the flourish of trumpets, “Rocky” is full of music designed to send chills down the spine, and Gibson and Fear utilized the emotion to their full advantage.
They turned in a new personal-record score of 130.26 for their free dance filled with level-four twizzles, dance spins and lifts.
Just as impressively, they also found space to work in shadow boxing and pantomime jump rope exercises. Gibson even dropped down to do push-ups—on the ice.
It was giving workout montage eleganza. Only Gibson and Fear did it all in real time.
Before competing in the Beijing Games, Gibson worried that coming out publicly might be held against him by ice dancing judges.
“I just think, could this be a detriment to my skating?” he wondered, “And I thought, I can’t live never sharing who I am and sharing who I love.”
After their NHK Trophy performance, Gibson and Fear finished at the top of the podium with a new personal best total of 219.19. Suffice to say, his questions were answered.
Both skaters were invigorated by their victory.
“I can’t put it into words right now,” Gibson told the media, “We worked for this moment — it is a dream come true. With our programs, we want to have fun out there and push the sport forward. We want to get more fans and people involved in the sport.”
If Gibson and Fear’s NHK Trophy performances become a trend, fans of Thomson Twins, Haircut 100, or Wham! might have just found their new favorite ice dancers.