OSAKA, Japan – Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir came within two points of their world record score in the short dance on Saturday to grab an early lead at the NHK Trophy figure skating competition- the fourth stop on the ISU Grand Prix circuit.

The Canadian couple gave another stirring performance of their routine to classic rock tunes tabulating 80.92 points. That was just off the 82.64 they skated two weeks ago at Skate Canada in Regina.

‘’We made a step forward today in a lot of our elements,’’ said Virtue. ‘’We were pleased with the attack we had and our technical proficiency. It’s always a joy to perform here in Japan and we try to relish it and take advantage of every moment.’’

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the U.S. are second at 76.31 and Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy third at 75.87. The free dance is on Sunday.

The free skates in the other three events were held on Saturday.

In pairs, Julianne Séguin of Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., continued to show improvement from a difficult season last winter moving from fifth to fourth with 194.37 points. Their clean program included two successful side-by-side triple jumps including one in combo and two triple throws.

World champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China won the gold over two Russian pairs. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov were second and Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov third.

In men’s competition, the top-three were Sergei Voronov of Russia first, Adam Rippon of the U.S. second and Alexei Bychenko of Israel third.

Keegan Messing of Sherwood Park, Alta., remained fifth after a clean Charlie Chaplin themed program. Messing landed two triple Axels including one in a triple combination and was just slightly low on his quad toe landing.

In women’s competition, Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., took 11th. World champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia won the gold.

Full results: ISU GP NHK Trophy 2017