World champion Patrick Chan fell and stumbled after two big jumps but still dominated the men's short programme while hosts Japan took the lead after the first day of the World Team Trophy Thursday.
With a 5.80-point lead going into the final free skate on Friday, the 22-year-old Canadian was quick to praise the six-nation event as a dry run for a similar team competition due to make its Olympic debut in Sochi next year.
"I've always complained that a lot of swimmers can get eight medals at one Olympics and figure skaters only get one chance to get one medal," said Chan, who won a third straight world title four weeks ago.
"So this is a great opportunity. I think it is gonna be really a lot of fun and a lot of motivation to want to skate well," Chan said.
Chan fell after his opening quadruple toeloop and stumbled when he landed his next jump, a triple axel.
But he followed a planned triple lutz with a triple toeloop which he had missed in the opening combination attempt, skating to "Elegie in E-Flat Minor" by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
He also hit a maximum level-four in three spins and one step sequence to collect 86.67 points, with Japan's Daisuke Takahashi second on 80.87 and Russian Konstantin Menshov third on 80.60.
"It was difficult to get concentrated," Chan said, pointing to early practice and an afternoon opening ceremony. "Hopefully, I won't make the same mistakes tomorrow."
Russia's 16-year-old Adelina Sotnikova, the European silver medallist, took the women's short programme with 67.13 points. Japan's Akiko Suzuki was second on 66.56 and 17-year-old American Gracie Gold third on 60.98.
The third World Team Trophy, with $1 million in prize money, brings together selected skaters from the six countries that scored the highest combined points at major senior and junior competitions in the past 2012-2013 season.
Each nation can field two entries in both the men's and women's singles and one each in the pairs and ice dance.
Japan, which won the second edition in 2012, led the first day with 47 placement points with the United States second on 47 and Russia third on 41.
First place in each category is awarded 12 placement points with less points given to lower finishes. When tied on points, teams with better individual standings are placed higher.
Canada stood fourth on 34 points as Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were absent from the squad.
Instead Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje competed for Canada and placed second behind the US couple of Madison Chock and Evan Bates in the short dance. Japanese-Americans Cathy and Chris Reed, skating for Japan, came in third.
Canada finished runners-up to the United States in the inaugural World Team Trophy in 2009 and third behind Japan and the US last year. Both events were held in Tokyo.
The event launched in 2009 was intended to be two-yearly. But the second edition was postponed for a year because of Japan's March 2011 earthquake-tsunami.