Nagoya / Japan

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Two-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron of France edged Canada’s reigning World Champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir in the Short Dance and lead by 0.54 points. World bronze medalists Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) follow in third place.

Papadakis/Cizeron put out a strong dance to Samba, Rhumba and Samba to Ed Sheeran songs and collected a level four for the Rhumba pattern, the twizzles, the partial step sequence and their straight line lift as well as a level three for the side by side footwork. The current World silver medalists received twelve perfect 10.00 in the components and posted a new personal best with 82.07 points. “It was a really, really good performance, the best of the season. When we got off the ice we said we’ll be happy, because we did the best we could have done. In China (at Cup of China) we were very focused and very clean and did not ‘live’ the program so much. In France (at Internationaux de France) it was the opposite, the program was lively, but we didn’t focus so much on the levels. Here now everything came together. We were focused on our steps and at the same time we very into the performance,” Papadakis shared. “It feels good, I like being first. But we know we have to be very focused for the free dance, because the points are really close,” added Cizeron.

Virtue/Moir’s characteristic Samba, Rhumba and Cha Cha set to ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Oye Como Va’ was highlighted by precise footwork and a rotational lift. The 2014 Olympic Champions earned the same levels as their French rivals to score 81.53 points. The judges awarded them eleven perfect 10.00 in the component scores. “The plan is to peak in February, we are on track. We are pleased with our performance, it is a step up from the Grand Prix circuit and we’re looking to build up,” Virtue commented.  “There's always pressure, whether we're defending or chasing a title again this is a fresh season and we know that we have to be our best. With the Olympics, everyone is coming out strong,” she continued.

Dancing to Mambo, Cha Cha and Samba, Shibutani/Shibutani produced four level-four elements, but the Rhumba pattern was rated a level two. The brother-and-sister team earned 78.09 points. I’m beating myself up over the mistake on the twizzle. That’s a mistake that I never make. I thought the performance was really strong, but overall we made a lot of good progress since Skate America. If we had done the twizzles the way that we’re capable of doing them, the score would be even better,” Alex Shibutani told the press.

Madison Hubbell/ Zachary Donohue (USA) finished in fourth place on 74.81 points while Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) and Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) follow closely in fifth and sixth place with 74.36 points and 74.24 points respectively.