The 2012/2013 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating opened Friday with Hilton HHonors Skate America in Kent/Seattle, Washington. Skate America is the first of six events in the series. The skaters compete for a global prize money of US $ 180, 000 per individual event of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and receive points according to their placements.

Volosozhar/Trankov (RUS) lead Pairs after Short Program
Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov took the lead in the Pairs Short Program. Qing Pang/Jian Tong of China finished second ahead of Caydee Denney/John Coughlin (USA).

Volosozhar/Trankov opened their program to The Godfather with a high triple twist, but the catch was not clean and she two-footed the throw triple loop. The World silver medalists recovered in the second half of the program, picking up a level four for the lift, the step sequence and the side by side spin. The scored 65.78 points. We are not happy with our short program, because we made a lot of mistakes. We'll try to do better tomorrow, Volosozhar said.
We're scared of our short program, we're very nervous. We have to find out why we skate bad short programs. We never skate like that in practice, Trankov noted.

Pang/Tong's routine to Scott's and Fran's Paso Doble was highlighted by a triple twist, a difficult lift and a dancey level-four step sequence, but he crashed on the side by side triple toeloop. The two-time World Champions were awarded 61.96 points. We think it is a good start for us. At the beginning of the season we had some trouble, but we're happy to be at this competition, Pang commented. We have been on the circuit for 13 years, since 1999, but now it is really different than before because we've been through troubles, sickness. We want to pass on our experience to younger generations. We want to teach them to learn and teach them to make their sports (lives) last longer, Tong said.

Skating to Concierto de Aranjuez, Denney/Coughlin completed a triple twist, side by side triple toeloop, a throw triple twist and two level-four elements to pick up 60.75 points. It's always fun and exciting to skate in front of what feels like a home crowd in our home country. We're kind of feeding off that kind of energy. I think they helped us with what at the end of the day was like a five-week program, Denney shared. Putting that timing and experience together, we felt really comfortable out there together and it was a really good start for our Grand Prix season. Each one is going to get better and we're going to work toward bigger goals, Coughlin added.

Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) placed fourth with 55.76 points and Marissa Castelli/ Simon Shnapir (USA) are currently ranked fifth at 55.67 points.

Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) takes Men's Short Program
Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan won the Men's Short Program, setting a new highest Short Program score on the way. Takahiko Kozuka of Japan and Jeremy Abbott (USA) follow in second and third.

Performing to Parisian Walkways, Hanyu hit a solid quadruple toeloop, a triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and picked up a level four for two spins. The 17-year-old earned 95.07 points, surpassing Japan's Daisuke Takahashi's 94.00 points set at the ISU World Team Trophy in last April. I was so happy with my quad, but it's only the short program. I'm hoping to continue to skate well tomorrow, Hanyu commented. Ninety-five is an extremely high score and I wasn't expecting it. I'm very surprised. I want to concentrate on the free skate now. This is only part of the event and I want to control my thoughts until the very end, he added.

Kozuka produced a somewhat shaky quadruple toeloop, a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe and level-three spins in his routine to Exodus. The 2011 World silver medalist scored 85.32 points.I am very happy that I was able to skate clean today, the score 85 was my personal best and the score was a good one to build on and I'm hoping to skate well tomorrow, too, Kozuka told the post-event press conference.

Abbott's intricate routine to Spy by Nathan Lanier featured a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and a triple Axel, but he fell on an underrotated quadruple toeloop. The three-time U.S. Champion collected 77.71 points. My goal here was to do a quad in both programs, get the levels, be solid and complete everything else. I took that first step today. I did exactly what I wanted to do. It wasn't clean, but I'm happy with where I am right now, Abbott said.

Tatskuki Machida (JPN) currrently sits in fourth at 75.78 points and Konstantin Menshov (RUS) came fifth with 73.32 points.

Hilton HHonors Skate America continues
Saturday with the Ladies Short Program, Short Dance, Pairs and Men's Free Skating.

For full results please see Entries/Results