Canada's Gilles/Pirier lead rhythm dance at figure skating Espoo GP

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HELSINKI, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- World bronze medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada danced to a 6.87-point lead over the second-placed American Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker in Friday's rhythm dance at the ISU figure skating Grand Prix in Espoo, Finland.

The Skate Canada champions put out an upbeat and precise performance to "Do What I Do", collecting a level four for the twizzles, the pattern dance step sequence and the rotational lift, as well as a level-three midline step sequence to set a new personal best of 87.80 points.

"This being the second event of our season, when we first arrived, we were a little bit excited and we really wanted to show our best skating here. So today's performance took a lot of mental fortitude," Poirier said.

"We know that there's still more of us to give, as the season goes on, but we're really happy with the development of the program," said Gilles.

Hawayek and Baker, silver medalists of Skate America, scored 80.93 with their entertaining dance, getting over the 80 points barrier for the first time and beating their compatriots Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko to third place on 76.20.

China's pair Wang Shiyue and Liu Xinyu, who ranked 12th at Beijing 2022 to set a new best result for Chinese ice dancers at a Winter Olympics last February and finished seventh at the NHK Trophy last week, stood seventh with a score of 69.95 while heading into Saturday's free dance.

Kevin Aymoz of France came out the surprising leader in the men's short program on 88.96, edging hot favorite Ilia Malinin of the United States by 3.39 points. Japan's Shun Sato came third at further 3.98 points.

Reigning world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium topped the women's short program with a score of 74.88, ahead of Japan's two-time Four Continents champion Mai Mihara by 1.30 points. Another Japanese skater Mana Kawabe sat in third.

Italy's Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini skated to the lead in the pairs short program with a personal best score of 67.31 points. Anastasiia Smirnova and Danylo Siianytsina of the United States and Georgia's Anastasiia Metelkina and Daniil Parkman followed on 63.01 and 62.59 respectively.

The Grand Prix in Espoo, slated on November 25-27, is the sixth and last event in the 2022-2023 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. Enditem

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