SHANGHAI -- Italy's Carolina Kostner spoiled a Russian sweep on the first day of the Cup of China.
The two-time world bronze medalist edged American Mirai Nagasu in the women's short program Friday, scoring 61.88 points despite stumbling on her triple loop. Nagasu, who was penalized with an edge deduction on her triple lutz-double toe loop combination, is a little less than a point back heading into Saturday's free skate.
"I am not completely satisfied with what I did today," Kostner said. "At Skate America I got really low levels on the spins, so I was concentrating a lot on the spins this week. I probably was more focused on the spins today than on the jumps, and I made a mistake on the loop."
World junior champion Adelina Sotnikova was a distant -- and unfamiliar -- third in her international debut, the first time she's finished anywhere but first since the 2010 Russian championships. Sotnikova fell on her opening triple lutz, which prevented her from doing her planned triple-triple combination.
But she was able to tack on a double toe to her triple flip and get credit for a combination, a requirement in the short program.
"I am not pleased because I didn't do the big triple-triple combination I had planned, but I did another combination," said Sotnikova, who won the Russian title last year but was unable to compete at the world championships because at 14 she was too young. "Hopefully I'll be able to show everything I can tomorrow."
Sotnikova's finish was the only blemish for the resurgent Russians, who are determined to regain their powerhouse status ahead of the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Artur Gachinski, 18, won the men's short, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov claimed the top spot in pairs, and Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev took a commanding lead in ice dance.
Long the dominant country in figure skating, Russia won only two medals at the Vancouver Olympics, none of them gold. Even its streak of pairs gold medals, which had dated to 1964, was snapped. But the Russians have pumped money and resources into skating so they can be atop the podium again in Sochi, and the results are showing.
Gachinski won the bronze medal at last spring's world championships, the first world medal by a Russian man since Evgeni Plushenko won the last of his three titles in 2004. Russia won five medals at last season's junior world championships and had the top two spots in both the women's competition (Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva) and ice dance (Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin and Ekaterina Pushkash and Jonathan Guerreiro).
Last week, Tuktamysheva, still only 14, won Skate Canada in her senior international debut.
Gachinski, who trains with Plushenko's longtime coach, Alexei Mishin, finished the short program with 81.64 points, beating Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu by .27 points.
"It was quite a good performance today as I landed all my jumps, I had positive emotions and I did almost everything in my spins," Gachinski said. "I am very happy that it was a successful day for me."
Two-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, who, unlike Gachinski and Hanyu, did not do a quadruple jump, was third with 79.32 points.
Kavaguti and Smirnov, the 2010 world bronze medalists, were easily the class of the pairs competition with their bluesy "All Alone" number. Their athleticism has long been their strength, and it was no different Friday with a difficult, intricate lift. Kavaguti and Smirnov scored 64.45 points, more than 3½ points ahead of Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch (60.78 points).
Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao of China, the 2006 Olympic silver medalists, were third (60.57) after she doubled their side-by-side triple salchows.
"We are not so pleased as I made a mistake," Zhang Dan said. "But the other aspects of the program were quite good. We hope to do better tomorrow."
Bobrova and Soloviev rhumbaed their way to the lead in the short dance despite a slight wobble leading into the step sequence. They scored 65.73 points, almost eight points ahead of world bronze medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani. The Russians and Americans both got the maximum level four on their twizzle sequence, but the Shibutanis got just a level one for their rotational lift.
Britain's Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland were third.
"It was a good start for us," Maia Shibutani said. "We didn't get a couple of our levels, we had a level one on our lift, but we know we can improve."