The men’s leader at Cup of China isn’t two-time world champion Javier Fernandez. It’s not world bronze medalist Jin Boyang. Not American Vincent Zhou, the world junior champion, either.
Instead, it’s Mikhail Kolyada, who shattered his Russian record for a short program score in Beijing on Friday.
The 22-year-old tallied 103.13 points, buoyed by a quadruple Lutz, plus a quadruple toe loop in combination. Full scores are here.
Kolyada, eighth and fourth at the last two world championships, has never won a top-level international event.
He goes into Saturday’s free skate with a 9.24-point lead over Jin, who also attempted two quads but had trouble with landings on both. The Cup of China broadcast schedule is here.
Fernandez, who has won five straight Grand Prix events, erred on his opening combination. He performed a triple-double combo, while Kolyada and Jin both did quad-triples.
U.S. Olympic hopefuls are further down the standings. Max Aaron (fifth), the 2013 U.S. champion, attempted two quads but didn’t land either cleanly.
Grant Hochstein (seventh), fourth at the last two U.S. Championships, stepped out of the landing of his opening quad toe.
Zhou (eighth), 17 and the No. 2 U.S. man behind Nathan Chen last season, fell twice in his senior Grand Prix debut.
Three U.S. men will be named to the U.S. Olympic team following nationals in January.
Chen is a huge favorite for one spot. Zhou, Jason Brown and Adam Rippon have been the other top men the last two seasons.
Also Friday, surprise world bronze medalist Gabrielle Daleman of Canada topped the women’s short program. The top three — including Japanese Wakaba Higuchi and Russian Yelena Radionova — are separated by .17.
Daleman is trying to keep pace with world gold and silver medalists Yevgenia Medvedeva and Kaetlyn Osmond, who won the first two Grand Prix events the previous two weeks.
In the short dance, France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron posted the third-best score under an eight-year-old system.
Papadakis and Cizeron won world titles in 2015 and 2016 but last season fell behind Canadian’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who came back from a two-year break to relegate the French to silver at worlds.
While Virtue and Moir aren’t at Cup of China, Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates are. Chock and Bates, two-time world medalists, trail the French by 8.54 points after the short dance.
Chock and Bates’ score — 72.66 — is points shy of what the other top Americans — Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue — tallied in their Grand Prix season debuts the last two weeks.
The U.S. can send three couples to the Olympics, with one likely to earn medals along with Virtue and Moir and Papadakis and Cizeron.
As expected, world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong distanced themselves in the pairs short, by 8.77 points.
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Cup of China Short Programs
1. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 103.13
2. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 93.89
3. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 90.57
5. Max Aaron (USA) — 83.11
7. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 80.55
8. Vincent Zhou (USA) — 80.23
1. Gabrielle Daleman (CAN) — 70.65
2. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 70.53
3. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 70.48
10. Amber Glenn (USA) — 52.61
1. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 81.10
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 72.66
3. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 72.34
5. Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter (USA) — 63.65
7. Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit (USA) — 59.32
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 80.14
2. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 71.37
3. Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise (ITA) — 63.76
7. Ashley Cain/Tim LeDuc (USA) — 53.15