Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir sit in second place overall following their opening performance at the ISU Grand Prix Final in Sochi, Russia.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States lead after the short dance, nearly two points ahead of the reigning world champions. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France were in third.
The compulsory part of this season's short dance is the Yankee polka, which White said played to the couple's strengths because "we like to take advantage of quick feet in skating."
Virtue and Moir had expressed displeasure with the Yankee polka when it was announced, but made peace with the steps in a program that begins on a dark note, then progresses to lighter spirits.
"There's certainly something upsetting and emotionally disturbed with my character and I think Scott is trying to make me happier and as the program progresses through the polka … it really is just about the love of dancing," Virtue said.
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia were in fourth and teammates Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov ended the day in last place. Between the Russians were Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy.
Mao Asada took the lead in the ladies' event with an exuberant short program, putting her a half-point ahead of American rival Ashley Wagner.
Asada opened her program to variations on I Got Rhythm with a strong double axel, followed soon by a fast triple flip-double loop.
The program was designed to "invigorate everybody who sees it, including me," Asada said. "I'm always skating it with a smile on my face."
'A clean, lower-risk short program'
Wagner opened with a big triple flip, followed in combination with a double toeloop.
Like Asada, she didn't try a triple-triple combination, saying her execution of it has been sporadic.
"I prefer to go out on the ice and perform a program I'm 100 per cent confident with," Wagner said. "It's almost better to skate a clean, lower-risk short program."
Asada was only 0.07 points ahead of Wagner on technical elements and 0.45 on program components.
Other skaters wanted to do triple-triples, but only third-place Akiko Suzuki fully succeeded, remaining in contention for gold less than two points behind Asada.
Kiira Korpi of Finland under-rotated the second half of her combination and ended in fourth.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia doubled her second triple, placing fifth, and Christina Gao of the United States fell on the opening jump of hers.
The competition is a test event for the Iceberg Arena, which will host figure skating and short-track speedskating at the 2014 Olympics.