Kostner, Gachinski lead in Shanghai

Bill Marcus
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Carolina Kostner of Italy

Carolina Kostner of Italy performs in Ladies Free Skating during Hilton Honors Skate America at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, October 2011. Kotner and Artur Gachinski of Russia grabbed the lead in the short programmes in the women's and men's competition at Friday's ISU figure skating Grand Prix series in Shanghai

Italy's Carolina Kostner and Artur Gachinski of Russia grabbed the lead in the short programmes in the women's and men's competitions at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Cup of China on Friday.

Both edged out their closest competitors by less than a point on a day of nail-biting tension.

"I think it's all open," said multiple Italian champion Kostner, who despite scoring 61.88 complained about not being "completely satisfied with what I did today".

The 24-year-old Kostner tempered her delight at placing first with caution. "You should never talk too much before it's finished," she said.

In second place was American Mirai Nagasu, who ended the day at 60.96. She said that she had struggled in her morning practice with a cracked heel, which she fixed on the spot. "They're not the perfect screws," said Nagasu.

Russian Adelina Sotnikova, who fell at an attempt early on in her programme, finished with 53.74 points.

"I'm not very pleased with my performance today because I didn't do my triple, triple combination, my biggest combination," she said.

Gachinski, who scored 81.64 points, edged out second-placed Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan with a razor-thin lead.

The energised Shanghai crowd had helped him overcome a disappointing morning, he said.

"I saw the audience and the audience had come to watch, and would be into our performance, and that really pushed me and gave me energy to do well because I really wanted to please the audience," said Gachinski, who took bronze in last year's World Championships.

The 17-year-old Hanyu, who is from the Japanese city of Sendai, which is in the earthquake-devastated northeast, said his performance was aimed at lifting the spirits of his compatriots.

"I wanted to give my best performance to our home crowd," he said. He scored 81.37 points.

American Olympian Jeremy Abbott, who was in third with 79.32, described his performance as "shaky", adding that his 24 hours of flying to Shanghai from Detroit via Newark had not helped.

In the pairs short programme Russian Olympians Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, in their first competition of the season, said they were satisfied with their performance which gleaned 64.45 points.

"Not bad," said Smirnov when asked how he felt. "First time in China."

"It wasn't as smooth and as easy as we had liked," said Canadian Kirsten Moore-Towers, who along with her partner, Dylan Moscovitch, placed second with 60.78 points.

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviev go into tomorrow's competition with the lead in the ice dancing despite what Soloviev called "upsetting moments". The winners in this, the third round of the Grand Prix, will be determined Saturday.

The top six skaters and couples in each discipline over the course of the Grand Prix series will square off at the Grand Prix Final in Quebec City from December 8 to 11.