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Aliev takes slight lead over Samarin in men's

Zhou in striking distance of podium; Duskova, Bidar set pairs pace
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Dmitri Aliev put himself in position to be the first world junior men's champion from Russia since 2004 (Andrei Griazev). The Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist sits atop the leaderboard after registering 80.74 points for his short program to "Nothing's the Same" by Gary Moore. -Getty Images

The 2016 World Junior Figure Skating Championships opened Wednesday in Debrecen, Hungary, with the men's and pairs short programs.


Russia's Dmitri Aliev topped the men's short program, followed closely by teammate Alexander Samarin. Deniss Vasiļjevs of Latvia is currently ranked third.

Skating to "Nothing's the Same" by Gary Moore, Aliev landed a triple axel, triple flip, triple lutz-triple toe and picked up a Level 4 for the flying sit spin and a Level 3 for the change camel spin as well, as the step sequence. The 2015 Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist earned 80.74 points, a new personal-best score.

"I rate my performance today at a good level. I was able to cope with my nerves and my emotions," Aliev said. "I was able to keep the focus from the morning until the actual performance. I'm glad that everything worked out for me."

Samarin's program to "C'est toi" included a triple axel, a triple lutz-triple toe combination, a triple flip and three Level 4 elements to post a personal-best score of 80.31 points.

"I did everything -- I've worked toward and prepared for this competition the whole season," Samarin said. "Today everything worked out, and I'm happy. Now we'll see for the free skate."

Vasiļjevs' upbeat performance to "Putting on the Ritz" was highlighted by a triple axel, triple lutz-double toe combination, triple flip and excellent spins. He earned 78.78 points, slightly improving his personal-best score.

"I think I did my job as good as I can," Vasiļjevs said. "I hope I can do better the next time and show my best performance. I'm very happy to skate in this great event."

Team USA's Vincent Zhou is in podium contention after earning 77.31 points, good for fourth place. France's Kevin Aymoz is in fifth with 75.53 points, and American Tomoki Hiwatashi follows with 74.97 points.


Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar of the Czech Republic lead the pairs field following the short program. Anastasia Mishina and Vladislav Mirzoev of Russia are in second followed by Ukraine's Renata Oganesian and Mark Bardei in third.

Performing to music from Cirque du Soleil, Duskova and Bidar completed side-by-side double axels, a triple twist, a throw triple salchow and earned a Level 4's for the lift, combination spin and step sequence. The 2015 Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists picked up a personal-best score of 64.71 points.

"We didn't expect first place. But most of all, we're happy that we did such a good program and we had no mistakes," Duskova said. "We don't think about placements. We just want to show our best and keep our focus."

Mishina and Mirzoev produced a triple twist, double axel and throw triple salchow in their routine to Bolero to improve their personal-best score significantly with 59.50 points.

"Today our skating was not very impressive, not clean, but we liked our skating," Mirzoev said. "There were some mistakes, but no big ones. Tomorrow we'll try not to make mistakes."

Oganesian and Bardei's fast-paced program to "The Race II" by Yello included a big triple twist, double axel and throw triple salchow. The Ukrainians set a new personal-best score with 59.30 points.

"Today, we did everything according to plan. We skated clean and we had good speed throughout," Bardei said. "There was just a wobble in the footwork, but overall, we're pleased with our performance."

Russia's Ekaterina Borisova and Dmitri Sopot are in fourth place after she missed the double axel (58.56 points). Team USA's Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson are in fifth (54.12 points), followed by and Canada's Bryn Hoffman and  Bryce Chudak in sixth. Americans Joy Weinberg and Maximiliano Fernandez are in 10th.