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Higuchi opens slim lead over Pervushkina in Zagreb

Nadeau sets pace in men's after turning in personal-best short program
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World junior bronze medalist Wakaba Higuchi holds a narrow advantage over Russia's Diana Pervushkina. -Getty Images

Japan's Wakaba Higuchi took the ladies lead and Canada's Nicolas Nadeau set the pace in men's on the first day of competition at the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) in Zagreb, Croatia.

Ladies

Higuchi, the reigning world junior and JGP Final bronze medalist, landed all three of her jump elements, including a triple lutz-double toe combination, in the second half of her "Mambo Fantasy" short program en route to earning a segment-best 60.77 points.

Less than a point behind, Diana Pervushkina turned in a performance that featured a triple lutz-triple toe (which was downgraded), a solid triple flip and a double axel. The Russian came away with a segment score of 60.52.

In third place, Marin Honda of Japan earned 57.92 points for her performance to "Spring Sonata No. 5." Her opening triple loop-triple toe combination earned 10.80 points, the most of any element in the event, and she recorded the highest program components score (26.61) on the day.

Americans Paige Rydberg and Sarah Nunez sit in eighth and 10th place with 46.93 and 44.22 points, respectively.

Men's

Nadeau topped his previous personal-best short program score by more than 10 points, earning a score of 79.54. His program was highlighted by a masterful triple axel and a superior step sequence. The Canadian junior champion will take a 6.58-point lead into Friday's free skate.

Russia's Alexander Samarin sits second, nearly five points out of third place. A four-time medalist in the JGP Series, Samarin set a personal best by earning 72.96 points for his short, which included a strong triple axel, an excellent triple lutz-triple toe and a trio of Level 4 spins.

He Zhang registered the second-highest PCS of the event (32.54), keeping the Chinese skater in medal contention despite the fact he popped his flip in his "Singin' in the Rain" short. The six-time JGP medalist did turn in a clean triple axel and triple lutz-triple toe, and he sits in third place with 68.38 points.

Team USA's Tomoki Hiwatashi is in fourth with a personal-best score of 66.02 points. His teammate, Tony Lu, sits seventh with 60.82.