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Zhou takes control of men's event at JGP Estonia

Tsurakaya assumes ladies lead; Atakhanova, Spiridonov set pairs pace
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Team USA's Vincent Zhou holds an almost five-point advantage in the men's competition at JGP Estonia. -Getty Images

Team USA's Vincent Zhou took a comfortable lead in the short program at the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) in Tallinn, Estonia, on Thursday. Polina Tsurskaya and pairs team Amina Atakhanova and Ilia Spiridonov -- both of Russia -- are in first place after the ladies and pairs short programs, respectively.


Zhou skated fourth out of 28 competitors and saw his 78.10-point score hold up throughout the event. His "Writing's on the Wall" short started with a triple axel and also featured a triple lutz-triple toe in the second half of the program. Three of his four non-jump elements earned Level 4's, and his step sequence received a Level 3.

Zhou is trailed by Russia's Alexander Samarin (73.36) and Canada's Roman Sadovsky (73.36).

American Camden Pulkinen, making his JGP debut, tallied 60.44 points and sits in ninth entering the free skate. 


Tsurskaya, winner of the gold at her home country's JGP, owns a four-point lead after earning 66.72 points and positive Grades of Execution across the board for her Game of Thrones short.

Japan's Mako Yamashita is second with 62.65 points, while Tsurskaya's countrywoman, Elizaveta Nugumanova, landed in third with 62.41 points. 

Making her season debut, Team USA's Tessa Hong earned a personal-best short program score of 55.81, good for fourth place. Hong opened her "Ave Maria" routine with a triple lutz-triple toe, and she later landed a triple loop and double axel past the midway point of the program.


Atakhanova and Spiridonov have a solid hold on first place, leading countrymen Alina Ustimkina and Nikita Volodin by seven points. Atakhanova and Spiridonov skated a flawless short featuring a throw triple lutz and side-by-side double axels on their way to posting a segment-best mark of 64.79.

Looking for their second medal of the JGP season, Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson are in fifth with 55.46 points. The U.S. pair is within striking distance of the podium, however, as they trail the third-place team, Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor of Australia, by a little more than a point.