The United States, which hasn’t had a top-five finish in the pairs free skate in 20 years, held an early lead on Saturday.
Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier scored a 138.45 in the free skate at the 2022 Winter Olympics to jump to the top of the leaderboard at the time with a combined score of 212.68, both of which were personal bests.
The duo, with a perfect throw triple loop, received a technical score of 68.97 and component score of 69.48 while performing to a version of Coldplay’s “Fix You.” That combined their sixth-place finish in the short program to place them ahead of Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (211.89) with five pairs left to skate at the time.
China’s Peng Cheng and Jin Yang then jumped ahead of Knierim and Frazier and into the lead with a free skate score of 138.74 for a combined total of 214.84.
The powerhouse pairs that followed then took their places atop the podium. ROC’s Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galiamov scored a 154.95 in the free skate to take the lead with a combined score of 237.71, jumping ahead of teammates Aleksandra Boykova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy, who scored a 220.50. That bumped Knierim and Frazier to fourth with the top two pairs remaining.
Still to perform in the free skate are gold-medal favorites, China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong. The pair set a short program record with a score of 84.41 on Friday.