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Russians set bar high on Day 1 at JGP Poland

Country sits first in ladies, men's fields; Pulkinen fourth after short program
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Alena Kostornaia will enter the free skate in first place after accruing 69.16 points for her short program Thursday at JGP Poland. -Getty Images

Newcomers in the ladies field -- including segment winner Alena Kostornaia -- made a strong statement on the first day of competition Thursday at the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) in Gdańsk, Poland. In the men's discipline, Russia's Alexey Erokhov holds the lead, while Australians Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor placed themselves slightly ahead of Russians Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin in pairs skating.

Ladies

Kostornaia made a stunning international debut with her short program, which was set to Pablo Ziegler's "Dos Cadencias sobre 'Adios Nonino'." By receiving positive Grades of Execution on each one of her elements, the youngster placed herself atop the standings with a segment score of 69.16 points.

Fellow Russian Daria Panenkova, who won gold earlier this season at JGP Latvia, opened with a solid program of her own while skating to the music of David Nevue and Anne Hathaway. Her score of 65.64 points was highlighted by three Level 4 spins.

Rino Kasakake of Japan sits third with 59.35 points. Kasakake, who also made her debut on the junior circuit, opened her program with a strong triple flip-triple toe loop combination and completed the only Level 4 step sequence of the top three ladies in the field.

Despite suffering a costly mistake on her second jumping pass, Team USA's Emmy Ma placed sixth with 52.41 points.

Men's

Following another strong display, Erokhov -- who won gold at JGP Belarus -- is now on track to punch his ticket to December's Junior Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan. The talented Russian leads the way after accruing a new personal-best mark of 78.83 points for his short program. Skating to Patrick Watson's "Lighthouse," Erokhov executed all Level 4 spins and three triples in the bonus.

Looking to improve on his fourth-place finish at the Nebelhorn Trophy, Matteo Rizzo placed second in the segment. With just one negative GOE on his resume, the Italian will enter the free skate with 74.51 points.

Luc Economides rounded out the top three after setting a new personal-best mark of 71.04 points, a score nearly three points north of the previous high he set at JGP Austria. The Frenchman also completed four triple jumps and three Level 3 spins to take third in the segment.

American Camden Puliknen backed up his win at JGP Austria with a new personal-best score of his own. He sits fourth in the standings with 68.52 points, while teammate Dinh Tran is 10th after earning 60.53 in his international debut.

Pairs

The reigning world junior champions, Alexandrovskaya and Windsor continued their recent success by collecting a winning short program, one that provided them with a 1.01-point margin over Pavliuchenko and Khodykin.

Skating to "Paint It Black" by Hidden Citizen, the Australians received a segment score of 61.00 for their clean elements, which included a triple twist, side-by-side double lutzes, and a triple throw loop. Not to be outdone, Pavliuchenko and Khodykin earned 59.99 points for their Cloud Atlas short, and received positive Grades of Execution for all of their elements, with the lone exception being their step sequence.

The second team from Russia to finish in the top three, comprised of Anastasia Poluianova and Dmitry Sopot, overcame a Level 1 triple twist to scoop up 56.81 points.

Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov of the United States slotted sixth in the segment, while fellow Americans Alexandria Yao and Jacob Simon -- who partnered up just five months ago -- ended 13th with 45.93 points.