Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara claimed a new personal best to take the lead after the pairs short programme at the world figure skating championships on Wednesday.
Home favourites Miura and Kihara scored a whopping 80.72 to take the lead ahead of American rivals Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier on 74.64 in Saitama, North of Tokyo.
Italy’s Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii were third on 73.24.
Miura and Kihara beat Knierim and Frazier at the Grand Prix final in December, and the Japanese pair were thrilled to break new ground with their best-ever score.
“We had set 80 points as our goal for the short programme this season so we’re really happy to be able to achieve that in the final competition,” Kihara said.
“There have been much better pairs than us that have never scored 80 so it feels like we have got just a little closer to them now.”
Knierim and Frazier made a mistake on a jump in their routine but they insisted “anything is possible” in Friday’s free skate.
“It’s one of those errors that doesn’t happen often but sometimes when it happens, it can be a little rattling.
“It felt good with how we attacked and performed, and overall just good to get out there and get the competition started,” Frazier said.
Canada’s Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps were fourth on 72.81 points.