World silver medalist Shoma Uno began his Olympic season by scoring a personal best of 104.87 points at the Lombardia Trophy in Bergamo, Italy, on Thursday.
Uno will take a massive lead of more than 20 points over second-place American Jason Brown (83.01) into Saturday’s free skate.
Uno surpassed his previous personal best of 104.86, set at the world championships in Helsinki last season, where he finished second behind world champion Yuzuru Hanyu in the final results.
Wakaba Higuchi grabbed the lead in the women’s event after the short program, also marking a personal best of 74.26, ahead of Carolina Kostner (71.67) and world junior champion Alina Zagitova (71.29) of Russia.
Higuchi, skating to “Gypsy Dance,” received level-fours for her spins and step sequence in an energetic performance.
Higuchi placed 11th last season at her first senior worlds.
Yura Matsuda (65.62) is in fourth place ahead of Friday’s free skate.
Uno, the defending national champion, opened with his patented quadruple flip jump, before going on to land a quad toe loop/triple toe loop combination and a triple axel to “Winter.”
Higuchi, who is the defending champion in the Lombardia Trophy, began her short program with a double axel, before hitting a triple lutz/triple toe loop combo and a triple flip.
The Lombardia Trophy is one of 10 events that comprise the Challenger Series.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5