SAPPORO, Japan – Two-time world champions Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., are in second place after Friday’s short program in pairs at the NHK Trophy, the sixth stop on the ISU Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Cheng Peng and Yang Jin of China hold a slight lead over the Canadians with 73.33 points. Duhamel and Radford, the Skate Canada International winners last month, follow at 72.95 and Xuehan Wang and Lei Wang of China are third at 65.66.

Duhamel fell trying to land the throw triple Axel but they successfully executed their triple twist and side-by-side triple Lutz.

‘’It wasn’t our best performance today,’’ said Duhamel. ‘’The throw triple Axel is a new throw for us this season and we’ve been doing it successfully in practice. The overall program though was better and smoother than at Skate Canada.’’

In men’s competition, Elladj Balde of Pierrefonds, Que., and Nam Nguyen of Toronto are fifth and sixth after the short program. Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan holds a big lead.

Balde landed a triple Axel, triple flip and triple Lutz-triple toe combination in an emotional skate to Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence.

‘’I’m very pleased with the result,’’ said Balde. ‘’I earned the same score as at the Grand Prix of Russia but today I made some technical mistakes and had a bobble in my triple Axel landing. But my artistic score was the highest it’s ever been and that is very exciting for me.’’

Nguyen produced a great start landing his quad Salchow-triple toe and triple Axel but fell and hit the boards on his triple Lutz.

‘’I was really nervous,’’ said Nguyen. ‘’I was pleased with how I came back after the fall. It’s a good step for me at this point in the season.’’

In women’s competition, Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., stands eighth after the short. Russia is 1-2 led by Anna Pogorilaya.

The ice dancing competition gets underway Saturday followed by the free skates for men’s women’s and pairs. The free dance is on Sunday,

Full results: ISU GP NHK Trophy 2016