Levito and Malinin in the Lead After Short Program at Grand Prix de France; Kagiyama 3rd

Yuma Kagiyama performs during the men’s short program at the Grand Prix de France in Angers, France, on Friday.

ANGERS, France (AP) — American figure skaters Isabeau Levito and Ilia Malinin are leading the field at the Grand Prix de France.

Levito opened up a comfortable lead after delivering a clean short program in the women’s competition on Friday. The 16-year-old Levito was solid in her “snake dance” short program in the western city of Angers and totaled a season’s best 71.83 points.

Her closest rival, European champion Anastasiia Gubanova of Georgia, managed 66.73 points. Lee Hae-in of South Korea, the world silver medalist, was third, with 66.30.

Levito, who won silver at Skate America earlier this season and is looking for her first Grand Prix win, landed a triple lutz-triple toe, double axel and a triple flip. She scored the highest artistic marks.

“I felt like it was a much better program than I skated at Skate America. I’m happy with the improvement, and I’m glad there’s still room to improve for my next competitions,” she said.

Malinin later scored 101.58 points to top the men’s short program ahead of Adam Siao Him Fa of France and Yuma Kagiyama of Japan. Malinin, the Skate America champion, has a very slim lead of 0.51 points.

Olympic silver medalist Kagiyama is taking part in his first Grand Prix in two years after recovering from an ankle injury.

Malinin produced a quad toe, triple axel and quad lutz-triple toe but fell during a step sequence.

“There’s a couple of small mistakes, but it happens. I was just too excited from what I did, and I just got a little bit ahead of myself,” he said. “It taught me that sometimes you just have to still be focused until the end of the program.”

Siao Him Fa landed a quad lutz, triple axel, as well as a quad toe-triple toe combination for a new personal best score of 101.07 points. “Today was really fun to skate, he said. “It was really stressful, because I was skating in my hometown, and it was a pleasure to skate here in France.”

In the ice dance competition, Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy took a commanding lead in the rhythm dance ahead of Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen. Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud of France were third.

Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud of Canada lead the pairs event after the short program, with 65.97 points.

The Grand Prix de France is the third of six events in the ISU Grand Prix series. The best skaters qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Beijing from Dec. 7-10.