Lilah Fear, together with partner Lewis Gibson, is a two-time British National Champion, international medalist, and has represented Great Britain at three World Championships in Ice Dance.
Born in Connecticut, United States and raised in London, England, Lilah as well as her younger sister, Sasha, are both ice dancers representing Great Britain. Now training in Montreal, Canada at Gadbois (the training location of World & Olympic medalists) and attending McGill University, Lilah certainly keeps herself busy!
We had the opportunity to catch up with Lilah just after she finished her finals and started her summer.
You and Lewis had a bit of a breakout season last year with your first Grand Prix assignments, regaining your national title, and great results at Europeans and Worlds. Not to mention a fan favourite Free program! How was that experience and how is it going to affect your process moving forward?
Last season was such an exciting season for us and we made such incredible memories. We both adored our free dance although we were unsure as to how it would be received, and the response was both surprising and overwhelming. We thoroughly enjoyed every competition that we attended, and were thrilled to travel to Japan twice as we had never been before. The audience supported us through the entire season and the energy was palpable and deeply appreciated. Lewis and I have so much that we want to improve upon and have taken what we learned from this past season to work to build our skating to another level
You have two Grand Prix assignments again this season, Skate Canada and NHK Trophy. Given your training location and family history, does Skate Canada feel a bit like a home competition for you? Will your family be able to attend?
I could not be more excited to attend Skate Canada and to represent Great Britain in a country that holds such a special place in my heart. I grew up visiting my Mom’s home town, Fernie, BC, and am always awestruck by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, so I look forward to returning. My Grandma lives in Fernie and is already rounding up a group of her friends who love to watch skating and they will all travel to Kelowna to cheer us on. I feel so lucky to have deep roots in such a beautiful country and it will certainly feel like a home competition.
The rhythm dance theme for this season is Musicals/Broadway/Operetta, are you a big musicals fan and can you tell us anything about either of your programs yet?
I am one of the biggest musical fans that you will find! I grew up singing and taking part in school productions. Growing up in London, with such a prominent theatre scene, I was lucky enough to see my fair share of musicals live in the West End. I have an immense appreciation for the array of musicals that we could choose from, so it was a difficult decision, although Lewis and I are really enjoying our programme and the choreography is so much fun!
Music you always wanted to skate to?
My 7 year old self hoped that the musical Rhythm Dance would fulfil my dream of skating to High School Musical but no such luck…
Favourite Routine by another skater/couple?
Gaby and Guillaume’s 2015 World Championships Mozart Free Dance. Not only was their performance breathtaking, but the reaction in the kiss and cry was so emotional and was priceless!
You’ve been to numerous competitions over the years but what has been your favourite competition so far and why?
My favourite competition so far was definitely NHK in Japan because it was our first trip to Japan and we had heard nothing but wonderful things about the Japanese audiences from our training mates. The support exceeded our wildest dreams and lifted us up through our performances. I will never forget the moment when we ended our Free Dance, when I could really take in the crowd and the applause that we received. It brought tears to my eyes!
Competitions can be a very stressful experience and even the most experienced skaters still get nervous. How do you cope with nerves/stress pre competition? Do you have any superstitions that help you?
I definitely get nervous for competitions, as do we all, although I find comfort in the preparation and hours of training and refinement that led up to the performance. By the time we compete, if we know that we did all that was in our control, we can let go and do what we trained to do, and there is something very reassuring that comes with that knowledge. I used to have superstitions, such as having to place my guards in a certain place, but I got rid of those last season and definitely recommend doing so!
Training 6 days a week, several hours per day, can take a toll on the body. You are still very young but how important is recovery? What do you do at the end of the training day?
Recovery is a crucial element of peak performance, and is something that all athletes at this level take very seriously. After a long day of training, I always make sure to stretch, roll, and I love to take an epsom salt bath when necessary! Most importantly, I try to get as much sleep as possible and avoid technology as I wind down before bed.
’Feel the fear and do it anyway’ (pardon the pun)
‘The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams’ – Oprah Winfrey
that keep you motivated
‘Seek what sets your soul on fire’
‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’- Maya Angelou
After your junior career, you and your partner had split. For how long were you looking for a new partner and what was that process like? Was it a stressful time?
I was unbelievably fortunate to have found Lewis almost immediately after my previous partner and I decided to part ways. The timing was uncanny, as Lewis decided to make the move to ice dance as soon as I began the search for a new partner.
Choreo Slides and Choreo Steps
Least Favourite Element
Even though Lewis wasn’t an Ice Dancer you found success very fast with this new partnership. How were you able to form a close bond so quickly and what do you admire most about Lewis?
Lewis and I worked well together from the very beginning, as we both have the same goals and passion for what we do. We had both spent summers skating at the Cricket Club in Toronto for the few years before we teamed up, so we both knew of each other, which of course helped ease the transition and accelerate the formation of our bond. I obviously admire Lewis’ ability as such a natural dancer, but what stands out most for me is his compassion and sense of humour. We have so many inside jokes at this point and always laugh together.
Earlier this year, you got to create your own porridge bowl at Barley, which looked super delicious. What other kinds of food are a staple of your diet when training? What would you eat to fuel you before a competition?
My love for porridge is certainly authentic, as I start my day with it every morning! Collaborating with Barley was such a unique and enjoyable opportunity, and I was so proud of the final product. Other staples in my diet are nut butter (in excess), dark chocolate and granola. Give me these and I am a happy lady! Before competitions, I have my trusted porridge, and I am a huge fan of RX bars, which are so easy to bring to any country!
Favourite place in Montreal/London?
Summit Circle in Westmount – a panoramic view of the city, preferably with a coffee in hand!
I love roaming around Notting Hill and Mayfair, and you can always find me at Farm Girl Cafe…
Most played song on your playlist right now?
I tend to listen to more podcasts than music
– my current favourite is Big Questions with Cal Fussman, or Vanity Fair’s ‘In the Limelight’ if you want to stay in the loop with the British Royal gossip.
As well as skating, you also attend University. How do you balance your education and training and how do you go about studying when you’re abroad for competitions?
It definitely took some time to become accustomed to balancing school and skating, and it didn’t help that I left for my first few competitions only 2 weeks after school started. I eventually got used to my schedule, and found that making lists to prioritise assignments and revision was very useful. My classes fit well with my skating schedule, as I train in the morning and attend lectures in the afternoon. Weekends become less exciting around exams, but I am grateful for the time to head to a cafe or the library and get as much work done as possible! I am fortunate that my lectures are recorded and posted online, so I can learn virtually and stay on top of my work when travelling. I feel so fortunate to have the elite ice dance training opportunity at Gadbois combined with attending an exceptional university like McGill.
You have your own podcast and are studying psychology, what kind of career do you see for yourself in the future after skating?
I have discovered my love for connecting with others through conversation, and have such a passion and curiosity for psychology, so I hope to combine the two in the future. I can envision a potential career in media or journalism, and hope to impact and inspire as many people as I can through the stories of others.
A summer page-turner
‘An Anonymous Girl’ – Greer Hendricks
‘The Third Door’ – Alex Banayan
Quick dose of inspiration
‘The Path Made Clear’ – Oprah
Favourite TV show
Life in Pieces
What is your personal style like and whose style do you admire most?
I would describe my personal style as elegant, feminine and comfortable. As much as I say this, I have to admit that I mostly live in leggings and and other athletic clothing, so my wardrobe doesn’t get any love until the weekend. I have so many people whose style I admire, from Jessica Alba, Zendaya Coleman and Amal Clooney, to Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. For anybody looking for great style icons on Instagram, I recommend you follow Kelsey Simone and Negin Mirsalehi.
Lilah and Lewis will be starting their competitive season at the Qualifier 2 in Sheffield, England on 25th & 26th of July. Skate Canada takes place from the 25th-27th of October and NHK Trophy from the 22nd-24th of November.