The Russians generated 19 points of a possible 20 from Thursday, while Canada is in second place with 17 points.
A major reason for the Russians' success was the outstanding performance by Evgeni Plushenko, the gold medalist from the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino.
Plushenko was the wildcard in the event because he has not skated much at all since winning the silver medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. But Plushenko skated flawlessly in the men's short program to move into second place with a score of 91.39 points. He finished right behind Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. Canadian world champion Patrick Chan meanwhile finished in third place after double footing a jump.
The mere fact that Plushenko skated better than Patrick Chan of Canada was key because it appears that Russia and Canada will be battling for the gold medal. For Canada to win the gold, they will desperately need Chan to skate better than Plushenko in the long program on Sunday.
In the pairs event, the Russians and Canadians dominated. Russian world champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, along with the Canadian pair of Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ontario and Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ontario skated exceptionally with outstanding clean performances and finished first and second respectively.
The Canadians might be helped out by the fact that the German world championship silver medalists of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy decided to skip the event to focus on pairs competition.
The women's and ice dance short programs will take place Saturday. The ice dance will be on Sportsnet at 7:30 a.m. mountain time, with the women competing on CBC at 9:00 a.m. mountain time.