Pang and Tong take lead in Harbin

Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China are currently first after the short program, followed by USA’s Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker and Jessica Miller and Ian Moram of Canada.

“We felt some pressure,” admitted Pang. “A lot of our friends had come to watch.”

The Chinese champions earned 65.48 points for their routine to Massenet’s O Doux Printemps d’ Autrefois, which featured side-by-side triple toeloops, a huge triple twist, and a throw triple loop.

“We got good scores and we are quite pleased with our performance tonight,” said Pang. “It was better than in our previous competition (Skate America).”

McLaughlin and Brubaker earned a new personal best of 59.22 despite a fall by McLaughlin on the side-by-side triple Salchows. The current Junior World champions otherwise delivered a very good triple twist, a difficult lift, and a throw triple Salchow in their routine to Moonlight Sonata.

“Overall it was pretty good,” said McLaughlin, despite the error.” “It was really good for the first time out on the senior Grand Prix,” added Brubaker. “We both had mistakes. It is a learning experience, and it’s an honor to be here.”

Miller and Moram nailed their opening side-by-side double Axels in their routine to Wayfering Pilgrim, but appeared to have difficult on their side-by-side and pair combination spins. Nevertheless, the Canadians otherwise produced a level four lift and a throw triple loop, earning a new personal best of 50.64 points.

“We’re just very happy on the way we skated, ” said Moram. “Being third right now is definitely just a bonus. We’re just enjoying it.”

His partner agreed. “I think we just had a lot of fun out there,” added Miller. “The crowd was amazing. When we did the first lift on the warm up, the crowd started yelling, and that was the moment I knew that we’re going to skate good.”

Yue Zhang and Lei Wang of China are currently in fourth place (48.32 points), followed by teammates Jiaqi Li and Jiankun Xu (46.24 points).

Mari Vartmann and Florian Just of Germany withdrew from the competition prior to the short program as Vartmann is currently suffering from a stomach flu.

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