10/19/2013 01:57 EDT | Updated 12/19/2013 05:12 EST

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch second after short program at Skate America

DETROIT - Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch are in second place after Saturday's short program in pairs at Skate America which launches the ISU Grand Prix figure skating season.

World champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia grabbed the lead with 83.05 points, Moore-Towers and Moscovitch followed with a personal best score of 71.51 and Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia are third at 64.80.

"We improved on most aspects of our program," said Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont. "The transitions and connections were the things we really wanted to do better today."

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch put their hat in the Olympic medal contenders' ring last season placing fourth at the world championships. They opened 2013-14 with a victory at the U.S. Skate International last month.

Moscovitch says he wasn't surprised to see a personal best this early in the season.

"We knew we were on track to get that score at this point," said the Toronto resident. "We're happy with it even though we didn't skate completely perfectly."

Margaret Purdy of Strathroy, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., are seventh.

The pairs free skate is on Sunday. The two couples are Canada's only entries at the competition.

Later, Mao Asada of Japan won the women's short program.

Asada skated cleanly, scoring 73.18 points. Defending Skate America champion, Ashley Wagner of the U.S., is in second (68.26). Elena Radinova of Russia, the reigning world junior champion, scored 67.01 and in third.

Asada boosted her score on the fly, changing her planned program content. She had planned a triple flip-triple loop near the beginning, but went with a triple loop instead. Asada performed a triple loop-double toe near the end of the short, upping her total.