The reigning pairs figure skating world champions are on track to win gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, as Sui Wenjing and Han Cong finished with the highest score during the short program portion of the competition.
China's Sui and Han earned an 82.39 overall score (44.49 for technical elements and 37.90 for factored components).
Representing the Olympic Athletes from Russia, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov sit in second place (81.68 overall score), while the Canadian duo of Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel are in third place after posting a 76.82 overall score.
Sui and Han won gold at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships, and they cemented their status as one of the favorites by delivering a nearly flawless routine. Their second element, a throw triple flip, earned a 7.60 score, and they followed up with a triple twist lift that netted an 8.50 score.
Olympic medalists Meryl Davis and Jeremy Abbott marveled at Sui and Han's performance:
The German pair of Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot finished second at the last World Championships, with 1.76 points separating them from Sui and Han.
Savchenko and Massot have their work cut out for them this time around in order to challenge for the gold medal after a critical mistake in their short program cost them big. They had attempted a triple salchow, but Massot only completed two rotations. As a result, the judges only awarded them for a double salchow, giving them a 1.04 score for the element.
With a total score of 76.59, Savchenko and Massot trail Sui and Han by 5.80 points, which is a significant margin heading into the free skate.
Barring a complete disaster by the Chinese pair, Tarasova and Morozov may be the only real challengers for gold.
As for Team USA, husband and wife duo Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim are in 14th place with a score of 65.55 points, but they still advanced to the final.
The free skate is scheduled for Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. ET.