Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron wowed the crowd in Sapporo ©ISU

Big names shone on day one of the NHK Trophy in Sapporo, Japan, in the rhythm dance and short programs.

This sixth and last event of the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating series is particularly significant, with qualification for the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final also on the line.

As expected, four-time ISU World Ice Dance champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France delivered in rhythm dance, passing the 90-point mark and setting a new highest score as the interpreted 80s classic "Fame".

Russia's Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin sit second on the current standings, with Italian duo Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri third.

"This year it's the first time that we're doing a Pattern Dance that we did five or six years ago in our first senior year," Papadakis said.

"So, it's fun to reinvent it and see how to make it different and better."

Olympic silver medallists Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China have taken control of the pairs short program, sitting on a comfortable 10-point lead.

Adrift in second place are Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro.

Anastasia Mishina and Alexsandr Galliamov are third.

"With the performance at this competition we are quite satisfied - as for tomorrow, we just want to give our very best performance," Han said.

A brilliant routine from Alena Kostornaia delivered a world record ©ISU
A brilliant routine from Alena Kostornaia delivered a world record ©ISU

In the ladies' short program, Russia's Alena Kostornaia posted a new world record score for the discipline in the first segment of the competition.

Her 85.04 put her ahead of Rika Kihira of Japan, while American Karen Chen sits in third place.

"I'm very happy that I was able to do everything as planned," Kostornaia said.

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu thrilled the home crowd in the men's short program, establishing a convincing 18-point lead over France's Kevin Aymoz - Sergei Voronov of Russia is in third place.

The Japanese skater scored 109.34 to establish a comfortable lead over France's Kevin Aymoz in second and Russia's Sergei Voronov in third.    

"For today, for myself I was able to get a passing grade," Hanyu said. 

"Tomorrow will be a different day - I want to have a different level of concentration."

The NHK Trophy continues tomorrow with the free dance, pairs, ladies and men’s free skating.