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Madison Chock, Evan Bates lead at Grand Prix Finland

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Skate America

ALLEN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 21: Madison Chock and Evan Bates of United States skate in the Ice Dance Rhythm Dance during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Skate America at Credit Union of Texas Events Center on October 21, 2023 in Allen, Texas. (Photo by Matthew Stockman - International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images)

International Skating Union via Getty Images

World champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates lead after the rhythm dance at Grand Prix Finland as they work on an undefeated 2023.

The Americans totaled 85.61 points to better Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen by 2.99. The free dance is Saturday, live on Peacock.

Chock and Bates also went higher than their rhythm dance from October’s Skate America (84.87), where they won in their season debut. They won all four of their competitions in 2023, including their fourth U.S. title in January and first world title in March.

Chock and Bates are on pace to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final, which takes the top six per discipline from the six-event Grand Prix Series. They rank third in the world this season by best total score behind Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier and Italians Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri, neither of whom are competing in Finland this week.

GRAND PRIX FINLAND: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier Friday, two-time world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan topped the women’s short program despite doubling the first jump of a planned triple-triple combination and having an unclear edge call on a triple Lutz. She leads by 1.04 over countrywoman Rion Sumiyoshi.

With a win, Sakamoto will go into the Grand Prix Final as the top seed.

Americans Starr Andrews and Amber Glenn were ninth and 11, respectively, in the 12-woman field Friday.

Japan’s Kao Miura topped the men’s short with two quads, edging countryman Shun Sato by 3.13.

American Jimmy Ma is third after the short, looking to improve on his best Grand Prix finish of fifth.

In the pairs’ short, China’s Peng Cheng and Wang Lei outscored world bronze medalists Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii of Italy by 25 hundredths of a point. Peng placed fifth at last year’s Olympics with former partner Jin Yang.