British ice dancers Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson won silver in Sheffield as the UK hosted an elite Grand Prix for the first time.
A mistake by Gibson in the free dance hurt their chances of passing Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri, who led after the rhythm dance.
The Brits nonetheless got the crowded arena going with a dynamic routine to a Lady Gaga medley.
“It’s a memory and an experience we won’t forget,” Fear, 23, told reporters.
Fear and Gibson had scored 85.37 points for their rhythm dance to trail the Italians by just over a point, but any hope of catching up the field was extinguished when Gibson stumbled during a flip-flop during Sunday’s free dance. They scored 205.56 over the two days, with Guignard and Fabbri on 213.74.
Gibson, 28, said competing in front of a home crowd, which waved a sea of Union flags and homemade “Lilah and Lewis” banners, exceeded their expectations.
“Of course, I wish I hadn’t made the little mistake…but we’re still super happy with what we did,” he said.
The pair topped this season’s ice dancing standings and remain in good stead to qualify for next month’s Grand Prix Final, but must await the results of the two remaining events to find out if they are in of the six couples.
There was home interest in every discipline at Sheffield, with Natasha McKay posting a season’s best in the women’s free skate to finish 11th, while in the men’s Graham Newberry and Edward Appleby came 11th and 12th, and in the pairs Anastasia Vaipan-Law and Luke Digby was seventh.
The Grand Prix Series is a six-stage invitational competition for the best skaters in the world.
Satellite navigation confusion and wrong medal
The Italians who beat Fear and Gibson were lucky enough to even be in Sheffield in the first place, having followed sat nav to what they thought was their hotel – only to find they were close to two hours from Birmingham.
It wasn’t the only confusion of the weekend as men’s silver medalist Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia hung the gold medal around his neck, before having to make a sheepish exchange with Italy’s Daniel Grassl on the podium.
But British Ice Skating will be happy with how the event went – the stands were packed – and it may give hope that the UK could become a regular stop on the Grand Prix circuit after being intervened at this time when China could not host due to coronavirus restrictions.
“I think we can both say we’d love it to be a regular thing,” Fear said.
There will be more elite figure skating in Sheffield, which will host the 2026 European Championships, offering the chance to see the continent’s best talent just weeks before the Milan Winter Olympics.