Caroline Green and Michael Parsons of USA perform their ice dance free dance skating program during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Sergei Stepanov)
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TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — The United States took the lead in the pairs and ice dance on the first day of the Four Continents figure skating championships on Thursday, and Japan's Mai Mihara led the women's event.

U.S. skaters Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov placed first in the pairs short program with 68.35 points, three points ahead of Canada's Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud. Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe are third for the U.S., a point further back.

The 35-year-old former world champion singles skater Daisuke Takahashi is on track to win a medal for Japan in ice dance with his partner Kana Muramato.

They are second after the short dance on 72.43 as U.S. skaters Caroline Green and Michael Parsons lead on 80.62. Christina Carreira and Antony Ponomarenko are in the bronze medal position for the U.S. with 69.35.

Mihara is chasing her second career Four Continents title after landing a triple lutz-triple toeloop combination on her way to scoring 72.62 in the women's short program ahead of a trio of South Korean skaters. Lee Hae-in is second on 69.97, ahead of Kim Ye-lim on 68.93 and You Young on 67.86.

Mihara was the 2017 Four Continents title and missed out on a place on Japan's squad for the Beijing Olympics next month after placing fourth at nationals.

Many of the leading skaters from North America and Asia have opted to stay away because of the upcoming Olympics and the coronavirus pandemic. China has not sent a team to the championships and the U.S. and Canada have sent skaters who are not heading to the Olympics.


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