Canadians Tessa Virtue and partner Scott Moir started their season on a high note, earning top marks in the short program in ice dancing at the Autumn Classic International in Montreal on Friday.
The three-time world champions posted a score of 79.96, while fellow Canadian pairs of Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, as well as Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, rounded out the top three with scores of 69.32 and 68.80, respectively.
“It’s always nerve wracking to debut a program,” Virtue, who hails from London, Ont., told The Canadian Press. “But we are well prepared for this event. It’s also really exciting, we’ve trained all summer long and we love this program.”
Moir and Virtue are gearing up for a run at Olympic gold at the PyeongChang Games in February before they retire. The duo won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games and silver four years later in Sochi before taking a two-year hiatus. However, they didn’t miss a beat in their return to competition last year, going undefeated on the season and capturing a world title in Helsinki.
“For the Olympic season there’s more pressure to finding the right pieces of music,” said Moir, from Ilderton, Ont. “We want to do something we are passionate about and represents us.”
Canadians were well represented on Friday with another two entries in the pairs short program and a trio of Canucks taking part in men’s short. And their strong presence translated into strong results.
Canadians took two out of the top three spots in pairs. Two-time world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford received the highest mark of 77.14, while Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau sit in third with a score of 61.72.
Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France are in second with a score of 73.48.
Meanwhile, Canadians Nam Nguyen and Keegan Messing are in third and fourth after the men’s short program, after posting scores of 88.40 and 86.33, respectively.
But Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan stole the spotlight with a record-setting score of 112.72.
The Autumn Classic International, which is the second event in the ISU Challenger Series, wraps up Saturday.
The Grand Prix season begins next month with the Rostelecom Cup on Oct. 20 in Moscow.