Radionova runs above Ando in Nebelhorn shortUSA's Cain thrilled to finish third; Georgia's Gedevanishvili leads qualifiers
Making her senior international debut, Russian world junior champion Elena Radionova leads two-time Japanese world champion Miki Ando by 4.90 points after the ladies short program at the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Skating to a medley which included selections from the Anna Karenina soundtrack, the diminutive 14-year-old opened with a clean triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, followed by four Level 4 elements, including her trademark layback-to-Biellmann position spin.
Radionova's triple loop and double Axel -- both done in the second half of the program -- were solid, and she gained 64.69 points.
"The first place today is nice, but I cannot relax; I still have the free skating to come and I have to get ready for that," said Radionova, who trains in Moscow under Inna Goncharenko. "I was very nervous before my first senior competition and did not know what [score] to expect, but I am happy with my performance today."
"It is easy for me to get concentrated on the music," she continued. "It comes from within me. I listen to the music every day and get into the character."
In a situation reminiscent of Mao Asada back in 2006, Radionova -- who was born January 6, 1999 -- is too young to be considered for Russia's Olympic or world teams this season. She will compete, however, at Skate America and NHK Trophy this fall.
In her first competition since winning the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships, Ando performed a solid short program to "My Way" that notched 59.79 points, including near-flawless jumps.
Ando opened with a triple Lutz-double loop combination, but the loop was judged under-rotated by the technical panel. Her triple loop was excellent and had five +2 grades of execution (GOEs) from the nine judges, and her double Axel was solid.
She lost ground with her spins; two of them gained Level 3 and the third Level 2. Her step sequence was elegant but not very speedy, and it rated Level 3.
Ando gave birth to a daughter, Himawari, in April. She created a media stir in Japan in early July when she announced the arrival of the child during a television interview.
"I know my spins and speed was bad, but I am just happy to come back in my way," Ando said. "The time after the birth of my daughter in April was very short."
Ando said she was happy for Radionova, who is more than a decade younger.
"If I see Elena, I can smile," the Japanese star said. "She is so young and reminds me of the times when I was 14 or 15. I don't think about other skaters' [scores], and I don't mind her winning today."
Ando's technical element score (TES) of 30.13 easily surpassed the minimum TES of 20 required for entry into the Olympics. She must also meet a TES minimum score of 36 in her free skate here.
Texan Ashley Cain, 12th in the U.S. last season, sits third after skating a highly dramatic program to a Flamenco mix by Russian composer Didulya.
Cain opened with a triple flip-triple toe loop, but the toe loop was a bit under-rotated. Her triple loop and the double Axel were excellent, and she gained Level 3's and 4's on her spins and steps. She earned 57.87 in her international senior debut.
"It felt really great to put out a clean program today," Cain said. "Since I skated really well, I got very excited during the program. My main goal for the season is keep improving until nationals."
"The Olympic Games are in the back of my mind, and it is good that the U.S. has three spots, but this is not yet my main focus now," she added.
Canada's Veronik Mallet is fourth with 55.79 points after a program that included a triple loop-double toe combination.
Nathalie Weinzierl of Germany is fifth with 54.60 points despite missing a triple toe-double toe combination.
There are six Olympic ladies spots up for grabs in Oberstdorf. The top skater seeking to qualify a spot is Georgia's Elene Gedevanishvili, who sits sixth with 51.59 points. She overcame an error on her flying sit spin, an element for which she gained no points.
Other countries in position to qualify are Czech Republic, Brazil, Austria, Australia and Norway.
Reporter's notebook: Isadora Williams, who trains in Ashburn, Va., under Andrei Kriukov, is attempting to qualify an Olympic ladies spot for Brazil. If she succeeds, she will be Brazil's first-ever Olympic figure skater.