Mild surprises marked the short programs at the Cup of China on Friday.
Russian Adelina Sotnikova led the women’s standings over 2012 World champion Carolina Kostner of Italy, while China’s Yan Han posted a score two points higher than Olympic favorite Patrick Chan had at Skate Canada last week.
In pairs, Chinese veterans Pang Qing and Tong Jian scored 70.38 points to lead reigning World silver medalists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, who tallied 69.07.
Ice dance went more according to plan. Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev edged France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat in a battle of two teams thought to be in the Olympic medal hunt.
The Cup of China, the third of six Grand Prix events before the Grand Prix Final (Dec. 5-6), concludes Saturday with the free skates for all four disciplines.
A Russian woman took command for the second straight Grand Prix. Sotnikova, 17, scored 66.03 points to lead the favored Kostner going into the free skate.
Kostner fell on her opening combination jump but is still within striking distance, 3.28 points behind Sotnikova. The Russian also topped Kostner in the short program at the European Championships in January, but the standings reversed after the free skate.
The American entry, Agnes Zawadzki, fell on her opening combination and landed in seventh place at 53.73.
Zawadzki is in the running for one of three U.S. Olympic Team spots but will need to be much better. Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold and Christina Gao all scored at least nine points better in their short programs at Skate America or Skate Canada.
China’s Han, 17 and the 2012 World junior champion, topped a men’s field that included reigning World silver medalist Denis Ten.
Yan, wearing an earring, landed a quadruple toe loop, triple Axel and a triple-triple combination to take a strong 8.2-point lead over Russian Maksim Kovtun.
Kovtun landed two quads and a triple Axel but fell on a footwork sequence. He is considered the top threat to three-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko for Russia’s single men’s Olympic spot.
Ten made an underwhelming Grand Prix debut after he pulled out of Skate America due to a back injury two weeks ago. The Kazakh is in fourth with 77.05 points.
He put his hand down on a quad toe and didn’t perform a jump combination, popping a triple Lutz.
Ten, who trains in California, had been battling a jaw infection that also left black spots on his ankles.
“Well that’s not as bad as maybe it could have been,” Ten’s coach, Frank Carroll, told his skater in the kiss-and-cry area.
2011 U.S. silver medalist Richard Dornbush put his hand down on a triple Axel, tripled a planned quad and placed sixth with 72.58 points.
In pairs, 2013 U.S. silver medalists Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim scored 57.99 points, good for fourth place. U.S. bronze medalists Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay were last with 50.33. The top U.S. pairs at Skate America — Caydee Denney and John Coughlin and Marissa Castelli and Simon Schnapir — were 62-plus.
The ice dance standings saw the last two World Championships bronze medalists leading two U.S. couples after the short program.
U.S. silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates scored 56.77 to land in third behind the Russians and French. Their short dance score was four points behind what Alex and Maia Shibutani and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue scored at previous Grand Prix events.
Behind Chock and Bates were U.S. junior champions Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton in fourth with 52.92.
Three U.S. ice dance couples will make the Olympics, likely led by World champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
1. Yan Han (CHN) 90.14
2. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) 81.84
3. Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) 81.62
4. Denis Ten (KAZ) 77.05
5. Florent Amodio (FRA) 76.75
6. Richard Dornbush (USA) 72.58
7. Peter Liebers (GER) 69.34
8. Nan Song (CHN) 68.68
9. Yi Wang (CHN) 63.27
1. Adelina Sotnikova (RUS) 66.03
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) 62.75
3. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) 60.24
4. Kanako Murakami (JPN) 57.33
5. Haruka Imai (JPN) 54.79
6. Nikol Gosviani (RUS) 53.76
7. Agnes Zawadzki (USA) 53.73
8. Zijun Li (CHN) 53.58
9. Zhang Kexin (CHN) 53.32
10. Guo Xiaowen (CHN) 45.32
1. Pang/Tong (CHN) 70.38
2. Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER) 69.07
3. Peng/Zhang (CHN) 64.24
4. Scimeca/Knierim (USA) 57.99
5. Wang/Wang (CHN) 57.16
6. Martiusheva/Rogonov (RUS) 53.02
7. Popova/Massot (FRA) 51.82
8. Zhang/Bartholomay (USA) 50.33
1. Bobrova/Soloviyev (RUS) 65.70
2. Pechalat/Bourzat (FRA) 62.60
3. Chock/Bates (USA) 56.77
4. Aldridge/Eaton (USA) 52.92
5. Carron/Jones (FRA) 50.20
6. Zhang/Wu (CHN) 41.79
7. Yu/Wang (CHN) 41.24