Canada's Gilles, Poirier best in rhythm dance at Grand Prix Espoo
Messing, Schizas both finish opening day in top 5
Canada's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier easily glided into first place in the rhythm dance on the first day of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating event in Espoo, Finland on Friday.
Not so close behind them are two American duos, with Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker in second (80.93), and Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko in third (76.20).
Fellow Canadian ice dancers Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus sit sixth with 72.38 points.
Gilles and Poirier won gold at last month's Skate Canada International to open the season.
Alaskan-born Canadian Keegan Messing is fourth after the men's short program with 80.12 points, while Kevin Aymoz of France leads the way with 88.96.
American phenom Ilia Malinin is in second (85.57), followed by Japan's Shun Sato (81.59).
Madeline Schizas of Oakville Ont., is fifth heading into the women's free skate after earning 65.19 points in the short program.
Belgium's Loena Hendrickx is first with 74.88, followed by Japan's Mai Mihara (73.58) and Mana Kawabe (67.03) in second and third, respectively.
In the pairs competition, Italy's Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini are in first place with 67.31 points after the short program.
Americans Anastasiia Smirnova and Danylo Siianytsia are second (63.01), while Georgia's Anastasiia Metelkina and Daniil Parkman are not far behind in third (62.59).
The Grand Prix Espoo is the sixth and final Grand Prix of the season. Skaters are assigned to two Grand Prix events, and the top six in each discipline compete in the Grand Prix Final, Dec. 8-11 in Turin, Italy.
With files from The Canadian Press