Gracie Gold impresses most at Rostelecom Cup

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Gracie Gold of the United States started the day as the lowest-ranked skater in the Rostelecom Cup and ended it in first place after a graceful and assured short program in Moscow on Friday.

She has less than a two-point lead over the next two contenders for medals, Kiira Korpi of Finland and American Agnes Zawadzki.

Gold, who placed seventh in Skate Canada two weeks ago, showed no signs of uncertainty in her short skate to "Hernando's Hideaway," knocking off an opening triple flip-triple toe loop, a triple lutz and a double axel with aplomb.

"Skate Canada was my first Grand Prix and only my third international competition, really, and I got very nervous before the competition and put a lot of pressure on myself and I was not able to skate like I did in all of the practices, but here I just remembered to … take a deep breath," she said.

Korpi, the bronze medallist at Cup of China last week, doubled the second part of a planned triple toe-triple toe combination, but recovered to precisely land a triple loop and double axel.

"For me, it's a very challenging situation because I competed last week at Cup of China and now I have to put all the jet lag and tiredness and everything behind me and just focus on the skating," she said.

Home audience favourites Alena Leonova and Adelina Sotnikova go into Saturday's free skate within striking distance of a medal.

Leonova, the world silver medallist , appeared well on her way to recovering from her dismal seventh place at Skate America, then made it less than halfway through her intended double axel.

Sotnikova, third at Skate America, started with a strong and elegant triple-triple, then singled her triple flip to end in fifth place, five points behind Gold.

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