Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir wowed the fans and judges with their sultry Flamenco moves on Sunday to upstage Russian favorites Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin in the Olympics ice dance event on Sunday.

Domnina and Shabalin were expected to steal the show with their infamous aboriginal dance and costume that had caused an uproar at the European championships last month but they were deemed only third best on the night in the original dance.

The Canadians, who are renowned for their inventive lifts and imaginative choreography, sent the crowd into a frenzy after scoring a mighty 68.41 for their original dance. They lead the field with a combined total of 111.15 points.

Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White also impressed with their hip-shaking Bollywood moves to slot into second place with 108.55 while world champions Domnina and Shabalin dropped from first to third with 106.60.

Virtue and Moir's seductive performance raised hopes of Canada winning their first ever ice dance gold medal on Monday.

We're not going to start thinking about the gold medal now, it's not about that. It's so much more fun just to go out there and nail it like we have been, Moir told reporters.

When you're in this rink that's a moment we'll never forget for the rest of our lives. I don't think a piece of metal around my neck is going to make it any better.

Virtue and Moir's place on the top of the standings brought smiles to a Canadian camp on a day the team went into mourning following the death of fellow skater Joannie Rochette's mother in the early hours of Sunday.

Virtue, who is sharing a room with singles skater Rochette in the athletes' village, looked alluring with a red flower tucked into her hair to match her red and black dress.

Their programme included an upside down lift which drew a chorus of 11,500 gasps as Moir held his partner with one hand.

Once Virtue was flipped 180 degrees to stand back on her feet, the roaring crowd clapped them along knowing that it would be their night. The judges agreed.

A month after showing up at the European championships in dark bodysuits and white face paint, Domnina and Shabalin stripped down to the bare minimum for their latest routine.

They still wore green leaves and red loin cloths but, in a bid to avoid further controversy, their lighter-toned bodysuits barely contained any of the swirling body paint that led Australian aboriginal elders to accuse them of cultural theft.

The Russians performed their interpretation of an aboriginal folk dance with playful choreography which ended with a nose-to-nose greeting.

Our goal was to choose music and themes different from other couples. We did it more authentic and less theatrical. There are more leaves and fewer pictures, Shabalin said when pointing out the changes in the costume.

His partner Domnina added: We were happy about the fuss, it showed that we touched something. No other couple got so much attention.

Their fall from the top of the standing may send alarm bells ringing in Russia because if they cannot make up the 4.55 points deficit in the free dance, the European powerhouse will likely draw a blank in figure skating gold for the first time since the 1960 Olympics.