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Chinese, Russians split wins in Cup of China shorts

Pang and Tong, Yan prevail; Bobrova and Soloviev, Sotnikova pull ahead
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The hometown "kids" stole the show on Day One at Cup of China. The ageless Qing Pang and Jian Tong gave a clean, impassioned performance of their 'Lady Caliph' short, bringing in 70.38 points and a first-place finish. -Getty Images

The 2013 Cup of China, the third of six events in the Grand Prix Series, kicked off Friday in Beijing with the short dance, ladies short program, men's short program and pairs short program, respectively.

Russians run ahead of French in short dance

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia took the lead in the short dance, followed by France's Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat in second and Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates in third.

Dancing quickstep and foxtrot to "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," among other numbers, Bobrova and Soloviev picked up a Level 4 for their twizzles and straight-line lift, and their side-by-side footwork and first part of their Finnstep pattern earned Level 3's. The reigning European champions scored 65.70 points for the segment.

"This is our first serious competition of the season, and after having not such a great start with injury and change of our program, we are very happy with how we skated today," Bobrova said. "We still want to improve with each competition and, obviously, for the free dance tomorrow."

Péchalat and Bourzat's foxtrot, quickstep and Charleston routine included Level 4 twizzles and a Level 4 lift, but they struggled with the end of the lift, and their second Finnstep part merited only a Level 1. The two-time European Champions tallied 63.60 points.

"We think we did a pretty good job today," Bourzat said. "We had lots of energy until the end. This is a program we really love; it's not perfect yet. We have high expectations with it. We wanted to do something different, something more sexy."

Chock and Bates earned a Level 4 for the first part of the Finnstep and for the rotational lift, but Chock wobbled on the twizzles (Level 3), and the second Finnstep pattern was a Level 1. The reigning Four Continents bronze medalists received 56.77 points.

"We are very happy with the way we skated," Chock said. "This is our first Grand Prix, and I think it was a pretty good start for us. We love our short program, and it's going to get better as the season goes on."

World junior bronze medalists Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton of the U.S. pulled into fourth with 52.92 points, followed by France's Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones in fifth (50.20 points.)

China's Xintong Huang and Xun Zheng withdrew due to Huang's illness.

Sotnikova seizes control in ladies short

Russia's Adelina Sotnikova won the ladies short program, with Carolina Kostner of Italy finishing in second place and Anna Pogorilaya of Russia landing third.

Sotnikova went for a triple Lutz-triple loop combination in her Carmen program, but she under-rotated and stepped out of the second jump. The Muscovite then nailed a triple flip, double Axel, three Level 4 spins and displayed Level 4 footwork to score 66.03 points.

"I feel very good today," Sotnikova said. "Not everything was great in practice, but I went out, pulled myself together and performed well. I did all my difficult elements, like the triple Lutz-triple loop, triple flip and the new [camel] spin [variation]."

Performing to "Humoresque" by Antonín Dvořák, Kostner produced a triple loop, double Axel and fine spins and footwork, but fell on her triple toe-triple toe combination. She collected 62.75 points.

"I was nervous today," Kostner said. "I have been working a lot on my choreography and I didn't know if I would be able to combine the choreography with the jumps. I still have to work on many things."

Pogorilaya pulled off a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple loop, double Axel and difficult spins to "El Choclo" to earn 60.24 points.

"I am very happy to be able to compete at the senior level with Adelina Sotnikova and the other top skaters," the 15-year-old Pogorilaya said. "I can't relax now; I will try very hard in the [free skate] and I want to show myself from my best side tomorrow."

Kanako Murakami of Japan finished fourth with 57.33 points, followed by teammate Haruka Imai (54.79 points) in fifth and Russia's Nikol Gosviani (53.76 points) in sixth.

Yan storms into lead in men's short

Han Yan of China skated into first place in the men's short program, followed by Russia's Maxim Kovtun and Japan's Takahiko Kozuka, respectively.

Yan nailed a triple Axel, quad toe loop, triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and three Level 4 spins in his program to "Viper's Drag" by Fats Waller. The 2012 world junior champion scored a new personal best with 90.14 points.

"I just skated like I do in practice and I showed what I can do," Yan said. "It is amazing for me to be in first place right now."

Kovtun opened his Flamenco routine with a quad Salchow-triple toe loop combination and followed that up with a quad toe loop and triple Axel, but he fell during the straight-line step sequence. He picked up 81.84 points, a personal best as well.

"I am very happy to have landed two different quads and the triple Axel today, and I skated in a relaxed way," Kovtun said. "I don't really know what happened when I fell; maybe I relaxed too much."

Kozuka's program to "Unsquare Dance" by Dave Brubeck featured a somewhat shaky quad toe loop and a solid triple Axel, but he reduced his combination to triple Lutz-double toe. The 2011 world silver medalist posted a season's best with 81.61 points.

"It was not perfect," Kozuka said. "As for the Lutz-toe, I remembered how I missed it at Skate America and I made a mistake. I should practice more, but I got 40 points in the components score; this gives me confidence."

Reigning world silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan came in fourth with 77.05 points.

2011 European champion Florent Amodio of France wound up fifth with 76.75 points, just ahead of Team USA's Richard Dornbush, who sits sixth with 72.58 points.

Pang, Tong tantalize home crowd with win in pairs short

China's Qing Pang and Jian Tong captured the pairs short program, upsetting Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, who placed second. Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang of China landed in third place.

Pang and Tong's program to "Lady Caliph" by Ennio Morricone was highlighted by a triple twist, throw triple loop and a reverse lasso lift, but the side-by-side triple toe was under-rotated. The team earned 70.38 points.

"This is our final season," Tong said. "We've competed in many competitions, and we are now not skating for medals or for winning but for our fans. For them, we want to skate perfect and clean."

Performing to "When Winter Comes" in an arrangement by Andre Rieu, Savchenko and Szolkowy produced a triple twist, Level 4 footwork and death spiral, but Szolkowy under-rotated the triple toe and Savchenko landed the throw triple Axel on two feet. The four-time world champions scored 69.07 points.

"This is our first competition of the season, and it wasn't perfect, but we know what elements we need to improve," Szolkowy said. "Our plan is to do the throw triple Axel the whole season in both short and long program."

Peng and Zhang completed a high triple twist, throw triple loop and a Level 4 lift in their program to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but Peng stepped out of the side-by-side triple toe. The Chinese duo earned 64.24 points, setting a new personal best for themselves.

"We performed up to our practice level and we made progress," Zhang said. "We are happy with our score and we hope to skate even better in the free program."

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim of the U.S. finished fourth with 57.99 points, followed by Xuehan Wang and Lei Wang of China, who posted 57.16 points.