A wobbly performance left Canadian pairs skaters Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford in second place after Friday's short program at the Trophee Eric Bompard.
Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., were silver medallists at Skate Canada International in October and are hoping to qualify for the season-ending Grand Prix Final in Sochi, Russia, next month.
But Duhamel fell on the landing of her triple Lutz.
The Canadians finished with 62.28 to trail Russians Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov (66.78).
"Eric and I are very disappointed with how we skated, we're never happy to fall. [Saturday] I assure you we will be perfect," Duhamel said. "This jump has been going so well for in the last few months that maybe I was too relaxed. It's not really a technical thing."
Abbott takes men's lead
American Jeremy Abbott coped with a bad back to take the lead in the men's short program, pulling ahead of Japan's Takahito Mura and Frenchman Brian Joubert.
Abbott nailed all of his jumps in a restricted program to take a score of 81.18 points into Saturday's free skating program.
"After Skate of America I'm very happy to be in this position. It's been a bit of a struggle with my back," Abbott said. "I'm not at 100 per cent but I was very happy with my performance. We had to scale [my short program] back a bit."
Abbott was fifth at Skate America in October after falling twice, and said the back problem affects the nerve endings in his leg, making it even more gruelling to compete in Saturday's longer program.
"Tomorrow, if I make it through the long I'll be very happy," Abbott said.
Mura's only blemish was on his opening quad toeloop-triple toeloop jump and he earned a score of 76.65, while Joubert tallied 75.46.
"I'm surprised to be sitting in second place, I did what I could," said Mura, whose only blemish was on his opening quad toeloop-triple toeloop jump. "I put my hands down on the quad and didn't have enough speed on the step sequence."
Lipnitskaia atop women's field
Russian teenager Julia Lipnitskaia continued her good form to post the best score in the women's event.
Lipnitskaia, second at the Cup of China two weeks ago, goes into Saturday's free skate program ahead of U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia.
"I felt I was able to do what I wanted well," Lipnitskaia said through a translator.
The 14-year-old Lipnitskaia, last season's world junior champion, remains in contention for the season-ending Grand Prix finals on home ice in Sochi next month.
Wagner entered the event with a gold medal from Skate America and is also looking to compete in Sochi. Skating to "Red Violin" by John Corigliano, she landed tentatively on her opening jump — a triple flip-double toe loop — but the rest of her jumps were cleanly executed.
"I definitely felt pressure coming into the event, I felt nervous coming onto the ice," said Wagner after her score of 63.09. "I really like to captivate an audience. It really makes me feel like a more well-rounded skater."
In ice dance, European champions Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France, who won gold at the Cup of China, remain on course for a second straight victory after leading the short dance with 68.48.
Italian duo Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, along with Russians Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko, the two pairs who took silver and bronze at Skate Canada are again in second and third places, with scores of 66.18 and 58.23 respectively.
The Trophee Bompard is the fifth of six Grand Prix events. Later Friday was the ice dance short program, followed by all four free skates on Saturday.