Washington (AFP) - Japan's Tatsuki Machida got his Olympic season off to a flying start, seizing the lead at Skate America with an elegant and athletic short program in Detroit.
Machida, who took bronze at Skate America last year behind compatriots Takahiko Kozuka and Yuzuru Hanyu, on Friday opened his program with a soaring quadruple toe loop and finished the first phase of competition with a total of 91.18 points.
US teenager Jason Brown, whose polished program included a superb triple axel but no quadruple jump, was in a surprising second place on 83.72 points, followed by American Adam Rippon on 80.26.
Brown, 18, was skating in his first Grand Prix level event and posted a personal best 13 points better than his previous highest short program mark.
Defending Skate America champion Kozuka was fourth on 77.75 points while Japan's reigning ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix champion Daisuke Takahashi had an even more disappointing start in the first Grand Prix of the season.
Takahashi fell on his opening quadruple jump and barely completed his triple axel as he settled for fifth going into the deciding free skate on Saturday.
Skate America is the first of six Grand Prix events in a 2013-14 skating season that will be highlighted by the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The men's field was diminished by the withdrawals of 2010 Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek of the United States, who is injured, and ailing world silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan.
There were no surprises in the ice dance short dance, where US world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White seized the lead with their program to music from "My Fair Lady."
The duo, who took silver at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, are hoping to become the first Americans to win Olympic ice dance gold in Sochi and got their season off to a smooth start with an airy routine that garnered 75.70 points.
Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte were second with 69.88 and Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani third with 61.26 points.
Davis and White were expected to dominate the dance competition at their home Grand Prix, with their biggest rivals in the discipline, Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, due to make their season debut in the series at Skate Canada later this month.Davis and White will try to wrap up the title in the free dance on Saturday. Women's and pairs competition also gets underway Saturday, with Japan's reigning Grand Prix champion Mao Asada heading the women's field.