SAPPORO, Japan – A fabulous season continued for Canadian pairs skaters Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro as they stand second after Friday’s short program at the NHK Trophy figure skating competition.

The event is the sixth and last stop on the ISU Grand Prix circuit before next month’s Final.

World champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China are first with 81.27 points followed by the Canadians at 71.21. Anastasia Michina and Aleksandr Galliamov of Russia are third at 69.00.

Moore-Towers and Marinaro were second last month at Skate Canada International and a medal here would likely lock up a berth in the Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy. On Friday, they delivered a clean program highlighted by a triple twist, throw triple loop and side-by-side triple toes.

“We love skating in front of such a knowledgeable crowd,” said Moore-Towers from St. Catharines, Ont. “We’re fairly pleased with our position heading into the long program.”

In men’s competition, Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., produced an impressive fourth place performance in the short program with 78.51. He opened with a quad Salchow on route to a clean program. Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan leads with 109.34, Kevin Aymoz of France is second at 91.47 and Sergei Voronov of Russia third at 88.63.

Conrad Orzel of Toronto is 10th.

In ice dancing, world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France are in first place after the rhythm dance while Carolane Soucisse of Chateauguay, Que., and Shane Firus of North Vancouver are ninth.

There are no Canadian entries in women’s competition.

Competition ends Saturday with the free skates.

Full results: ISU GP NHK Trophy 2019