NORWOOD, Mass. — American ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates along with Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto, the women’s world champion, took the lead after their short programs in the Grand Prix opener at Skate America on Saturday.
Chock and Bates, who finished in fourth at the Beijing Olympics, scored 82.63 points for their rhumba, despite a couple of mistakes in the program. They struggled through their rotational lift and Bates made a bobble on his twizzle.
It was still enough to lead American teammates Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, the silver medalists at Skate America two years ago, who scored 79.12 points. Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain le Gac were third with 72.12 points.
In the women’s event, Sakamoto breezed through a Janet Jackson medley to score 71.72 points, even though the Olympic bronze medalist followed her triple flip with a double toe loop rather than another triple.
Sakamoto has a slim lead heading into Sunday’s free skate over 15-year-old American Isabeau Levito, who scored 71.30 points in her senior Grand Prix debut. The highlight was a big opening triple flip, though she underrotated a triple loop on her triple-triple combination later in the program and that was enough to leave her in second place.
Levito’s teammate, Amber Glenn, was third with 68.42 points.
The men’s and pairs free skates Saturday night will decide the first medals of the event. Japan’s Kao Miura leads the men after a dazzling short program on Friday while Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier lead the pairs competition.