It is a select group of Scottish athletes who reach the top of the world rankings, with Lewis Gibson the newest recruit to the lauded club.

Gibson, and his skating partner, Lilah Fear, topped the ice dance world rankings at the end of 2022 and although it lasted only a matter of days, it was quite a moment for the 28-year-old from Prestwick.

“It was really cool. I don’t think in the early days, I ever imagined making it to that point,” he says. “It didn’t last too long. We were only there about a week but it was still a huge achievement to get to that point in the first place and another massive milestone for us which was really satisfying to achieve.”

Last year saw Gibson and Fear take massive strides forward. Having been a pair since 2016, the Scot and his English-Canadian partner broke into the big time. A 10th-place finish at the Winter Olympics last February was topped at the World Championships a month later when they finished sixth.

Numerous impressive performances on the international circuit is what fuelled their rise to the top and has ensured they go into the European Championships, which begin today in Finland, as favourites for a place on the podium. Such success would be their first major championship medal and silverware is very much in the pair’s thoughts.

“Making the podium would be very exciting and of course, we want to stand on top step,” Gibson says. “But ultimately, we want to skate the very best we can and if we feel like we’ve done that, we can do no more. We’ve made some tweaks to our programme and so it’s always exciting knowing that things will be slightly different from the last time we competed and so there’s a constant evolution and that will, hopefully, help us make strides at the Europeans.”

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Gibson, who began his sporting life as a footballer in the west of Scotland, and Fear have long been renowned for their flamboyant, creative routines, particularly in the free dance – last season, they performed to a Kiss medley and this season, it is to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”.

Such soundtrack choices, as well as their undoubted potential have, unsurprisingly, led to comparisons with Torvill and Dean, the legendary skaters who won Olympic gold in 1984. For many that would prove to be a burden but, to Gibson and Fear, it is more of a compliment.

“It’s always flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence as people who are so incredible,” says Gibson. “There’s things that are very different between us but also, we have so much in common in terms of our creativity on the ice and really wanting to push the sport in a different direction all the time. So it’s nice for us when those similarities are highlighted and for me, it’s always nice to be compared to them in any way.”

While Gibson and Fear – who are based in Montreal – still have some way to go to match the achievements of Torvill and Dean, they are putting few limits on their potential. Their leap to the top of the rankings could have added pressure, but Gibson says it has only bolstered their self-belief.

“Last year felt very much like a year of improvement and it was also very fun to stand on quite a few podiums throughout the season which was a little different from the previous year. But more than anything, we really were just enjoying showing our programme,” he says.

“I don’t feel any extra pressure and we do have much more belief now. Last year was about figuring out what we need to do and this season has been about doing it. And it’s worked well because we’ve had some really great results along the way.”

These European Championships mark the start of a busy spell, with the World Championships in March and Gibson seeking to become the first Scottish ice dancer to win silverware at a major global championship. For now, however, Gibson has banished any thoughts of writing himself into the history books.

“We’re so used to doing so many competitions almost back-to-back that it’s pretty normal for us to have two big events so close together so that’s fine for us,” he says. “At the moment, we’re really focused on the Europeans and then once that’s over, we’ll move our focus to the Worlds.”