Two Canadian figure skating duos got off to a strong start at the Grand Prix de France on Friday in Angers.
Canada's Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps topped the standings in the pairs short program despite a fall, while ice dancers Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen are in second place after the rhythm dance.
Stellato-Dudek and Deschamp, the 2022 Skate America silver medallists, scored 64.33 points for a narrow lead over France's Pavel and Camille Kovalev (63.98). Georgia's Karina Safina and Luka Berulava are in third place with 61.55.
The 39-year-old Stellato-Dudek, who is the oldest first-time medallist in Grand Prix history, is in position to set the record for oldest Grand Prix winner. She returned to figure skating after a 16-year competition break.
A victory on Saturday will also give Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps a spot in December's Grand Prix final in Torino.
WATCH | Stellato-Dudek, Deschamps 1st in short program:
Montreal's Fournier Beaudry and Soerensen racked up 82.38 points in the rhythm dance earlier in the day, with only Italian Olympians Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri scoring higher (83.52). France's Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud are far back in third place with 73.17.
Canada's other ice dance duo in the competition, Molly Langhan and Dmitre Razgulajevs, are at the bottom of the standings in 10th place (60.78).
WATCH | Fournier Beaudry, Soerensen shine in rhythm dance:
The other Canadian in action on Friday was Wesley Chiu, who sits 11th out of 12 skaters with 67.95 points in the men's short program. Japan's Sōta Yamamoto is in first place (92.42), followed by compatriot Kazuki Tomono (89.46) and France's Adam Siao Him Fa (88.00).
WATCH | Yamamoto tops men's short program:
The women's short program kicked off the day, with Belgium's Loena Hendrickx leading the way with 72.75 points. South Korea's Kim Ye-Lim sits second with 68.93, while Japan's Mana Kawabe is third (68.83).
WATCH | Hendrickx grabs lead in France:
The Grand Prix de France is the third ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating event of the season, following Skate Canada International and Skate America.
WATCH | Asher Hill recaps Skate Canada International:
Schedule of events
Saturday, Nov. 5: Women's free (8 a.m. ET), ice dance free dance (10:10 a.m. ET), men's free (12 p.m. ET), pairs free (2:10 p.m. ET)
Sunday, Nov. 6: Gala (8:30 a.m. ET)