Without a quad, Brown takes Grand Prix lead in France

              US' Jason Brown competes in the Men Short Program Program during the ISU figure skating France's Trophy, in Grenoble, French Alps, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

GRENOBLE, France (AP) — Without attempting a quad jump, Jason Brown built a solid lead at the French round of the Grand Prix figure skating series on Friday.

The American skater was rewarded for his crisp technique and flowing ease in landing four triple jumps at the Internationaux de France.

His rivals, meanwhile, were penalized for failing to cleanly execute more difficult quads.

Alexander Samarin of Russia goes into the free skate on Saturday trailing Brown, who scored 96.41, by nearly six points. Samarin fluffed the landing of his opening quad lutz but quickly recovered and scored 90.86.

World champion Nathan Chen fell on his second jump, a quad flip, and was third with 86.94.

In the women’s short program, less than half a point separated the top three, led by Mai Mihara. The 19-year-old from Japan scored 67.95, a whisker ahead of 16-year-old compatriot Rika Kihira.

Kihira, ethereal in a light-blue dress, scored 67.64 but would have done better had she not chronically under-rotated what was meant to be a triple axel at the start of her skate to Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”

Evgenia Medvedeva, the Olympic silver medalist from Russia, was clearly unhappy with her ho-hum routine that lacked spark and crisp execution, placing third on 67.55 points to jazz from Natalie Cole.

In the pairs, Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii lead going into the free skate. The Russians scored 68.83 in the short program. North Koreans Tae Ok Ryom and Ju Sik Kim scored 67.18 for second place, and French pair Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres was third on 65.24.

In ice dance, the French pairing of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron outclassed the field in the rhythm dance. The three-time world champions and Olympic silver medalists scored 84.13 with their sultry and intense crowd-pleasing short dance to “Tango: Oblivion” and “Primavera Porteno” by Astor Piazzolla.

The Russian pair of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov was second with 77.91, followed by third-placed Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who scored 74.25.

The sixth and last event of the Grand Prix series offers skaters a final chance to qualify for next month’s final in Vancouver.