November 02, 2012

SHANGHAI (AP) -- Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia took the lead after the short program at the Cup of China on Friday in her senior Grand Prix debut.

Last season's world junior champion scored 63.06 points to take a narrow lead over two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan into the free skate on Saturday.

Asada, the silver medalist at the Vancouver Olympics, is close behind Lipnitskaia with 62.89 points, while Mirai Nagasu of the United States is third with 59.76.

Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 world champion and Vancouver bronze medalist, took the short program in men's singles with a lively skate to "Rock `N Roll Medley," scoring 84.79.

Japanese teammate Tatsuki Machida, who was third at Skate America two weeks ago, was second with 83.48, followed by Sergei Voronov of Russia with 73.58.

Lipnitskaia, considered one of Russia's medal hopefuls for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, won the preseason Finlandia Trophy last month. The 14-year-old performed confidently in a black outfit with copper and green sequins to "Sabre Dance." She opened with a fine triple lutz-triple toe loop combination then landed a triple flip and double axel.

Asada, who has finished sixth at the last two world championships, was solid to Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" in her first competition of the season. Asada chose not to try her patented triple axel, which gave her trouble last season. She began with a double axel, followed it with a triple flip-double loop combo and then hit a triple loop.

Nagasu skated to "Downhill Special" and executed all of her jumps, starting with a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combo, but lacked speed in her routine. She has not qualified for the U.S. team for the last two worlds.

Takahashi opened with a quad toe loop but two-footed his landing. He then cleanly hit a triple lutz-triple toe loop combo and a fine triple axel. Machida nailed all three of his jumps, but did not attempt a quad.

France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat led the ice dance after the short dance with 69.15. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada were second on 65.59, while Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia stood in third at 64.32.

Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China took the lead in pairs with a tally of 68.57 in the short program. Yuko Kavaguti and AlexanderSmirnov of Russia were second at 63.70, with Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch of Canada third.

The Cup of China is the third of the six-event ISU Grand Prix series. This season's Grand Prix Final will be held in Sochi in December.

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