Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier finished second in the rhythm dance Friday at the ISU Grand Prix in France.
The Toronto ice dancers scored 81.35 with their skate to music by Elton John. They trailed 2020 world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France (89.08 points) heading into Saturday’s free skate.
Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin of Russia are third at 79.89.
Gilles and Poirier were victorious at their first two international events this season including Skate Canada International in Vancouver last month.
WATCH | Canada’s Gilles, Poirier finish rhythm dance in 2nd:
“We are on the mission here this year to qualify for the Grand Prix final,” said Poirier. “The changes we made after Skate Canada International seemed to work. The scores are not where we want them to be, but we are looking forward to the free skate.”
WATCH | Ice dancers Papadakis, Cizeron lead headed into free:
In pairs, first-year partners Vanessa James of Toronto and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., produced their best short program this season to stand third with 71.84 points.
Russia is 1-2 with Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii first at 77.17 and Iuliia Artemeva and Mikhail Nazarychev second at 73.02.
“We made a few changes because we had a problem with how it was laid out,” said Radford of the short program. “It’s a little bit more seamless now. The results showed that it was the right choice.”
WATCH | James and Radford sit 3rd in France:
In the men’s short program, Yuma Kagiyama of Japan dominated the field with 100.64 points. Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia was second at 89.76 and Jason Brown of the U.S. third at 89.39.
WATCH | Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama tops men’s short program:
Canada’s Keegan Messing didn’t land his quad toe or tripe-triple combo cleanly and was sixth at 85.03.
“It was a tough go of it, my legs felt a little bit shaky out there,” said Messing, at his third international event this season and second Grand Prix. “I fought for every point and focused on continuing the performance. All in all, I can walk away with my head held high and I’ll get them in the long.”
WATCH | Messing performs at Grand Prix stop in France:
World champion Anna Shcherbakova won in a Russian sweep of the women’s short program.
Skating to “Dangerous Affairs” by Inon Zur, the 17-year-old Shcherbakova compiled a score of 77.94.
Russians Alena Kostornaia and Kseniia Sinitsyna placed second and third, respectively in Grenoble.
WATCH | Shcherbakova skates to 1st after short:
Starr Andrews of the United States was injured during her program and withdrew. The 20-year-old American pulled up while attempting a triple loop.
This month at the Italian Grand Prix, Shcherbakova had a disappointing short program but rallied to win gold the next day.
Kostornaia scored 76.44 on Friday and Sinitsyna finished with 69.89.
Competition ends Saturday with the free skates in all four events.