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Olympic bids at stake as Nebelhorn Trophy begins

Hendrickx vaults to top of men's standings; Tarasova, Morozov lead pairs
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Jorik Hendrickx recorded a new personal-best short program score en route to capturing the lead Thursday at the 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy. -Getty Images

The 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy opened Thursday in Oberstdorf, Germany, with many skaters and teams looking to secure their bids for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Jorik Hendrickx took the lead in the men's field with a strong opening performance, while Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov won the pairs short program over hometown favorites Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot. In ice dance, Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland hold the top spot over Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed.

Men's

Skating to Francesco di Cello's "Je suis malade," Hendrickx -- who won silver at this event last season -- placed himself atop the standings by notching a personal-best 85.15 points. The Belgian earned 10.21 points for his triple axel, and an additional 12.03 for his triple lutz-triple toe combination, providing himself with more than a two-point lead in the process.

The closest finisher to Hendrickx in the segment was American Alexander Johnson, who skated clean to his "Legends" routine, en route to picking up 82.55 points. Included in Johnson's new personal-best short was a triple lutz-triple toe combination, for which he received an additional 10.50 points.

Sweden's Alexander Majorov, who is appearing at Nebelhorn Trophy for the first time since 2012, finished third in the segment with a mark of 77.01.

Pairs

Tarasova and Morozov, who finished second in Oberstdorf in 2014, won the opening segment with a beautiful performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2." The Russians own the lead over reigning Nebelhorn champions Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, who landed 72.99 points for their Maxime Rodriguez program.

Austria's Miriam Ziegler and Severin Kiefer finished third in the segment after accruing a fresh personal-best mark of 65.09, while Australia's Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor locked up fourth place by earning 64.51 points, which was also a new personal best.

Americans Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc sit 10th in the standings with 55.47 points.

Ice Dance

As they seek to lock up their place in PyeongChang, Coomes and Buckland blitzed the competition Thursday by earning a new personal-best score of 71.79 for their rhumba/samba short dance. The British duo -- who missed last season's World Figure Skating Championships due to her knee injury -- will enter the free dance with a near 10-point lead as they vie for one of the five remaining Olympic spots in ice dance.

Muramoto and Reed are the closest team to Coomes and Buckland in the standings, as the Japanese duo secured 62.67 points for their program, while Germany's Kavita Lorenz and Joti Polizoakis capped off the top three by picking up 61.09 points for their salsa/rhumba short.

Team USA's Karina Manta and Joseph Johnson finished the segment 12th with a score of 51.91 points.