Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski took the lead on Friday at Russian nationals in St. Petersburg.

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Day one at Russian nationals wraps up

Khokhlova and Novitski lead after the compulsory dance round.
Khokhlova and Novitski lead after the compulsory dance round. (Getty Images)

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By Tatiana Flade, special to icenetwork.com
(01/04/2008) - Ice dancers Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski took the lead on Friday at Russian National Championships in St. Petersburg.

Defending champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin withdrew from the event due to Shabalin's surgery, allowing Khokhlova and Novitski to dominate the field of nine couples.

Khokhlova and Novitski did not disappoint. They skated to a solid lead with a strong "Yankee Polka" compulsory dance, earning 41.32 points.

Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer, bronze medalists at nationals last year, were second with 34.68 points. The new team of Natalia Mikhailova and Andrei Maksimishin, competing in their first nationals together, edged out reigning world junior champions Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev for the third spot.

In the men's competition, Sergei Voronov crushed his competitors, performing the best short program of his career. Performing to Sergei Rachmaninov's "Second Piano Concerto", he hit a quad-double toe combination, a high triple Axel, a triple loop and showed strong spins and footwork to score 78.98 points. The world junior bronze medalist got a bonus of two points for his clean quad combo. That means he has a big lead over Andrei Lutai (68.32 points) and Andrei Griazev (64.06 points).

Lutai didn't risk the quad and did a shaky triple Lutz-double toe instead. Griazev did a double Lutz and didn't add a jump for the combination. His triple Axel was wobbly, but he recovered to nail a nice triple flip.

"This probably was the best short I've ever done so far. It was the first time I did a clean quad in the short," Voronov said. "The lead doesn't give me any special feeling. I just want to go out and to my job, and what the others are doing is not so important to me. My competitors are strong, you can't say that this is a weak competition."

The Ladies group was led by defending Russian champion Ksenia Doronina, who celebrated a little comeback after a disappointing season by winning the short program. She hit a triple flip-double toe and a double Axel.

Nina Petushkova follows in second place with 54.09 points. She landed a triple Lutz-double toe combination, a triple flip and a double loop. The 15-year-old earned a bonus of two points for including a clean triple Lutz and flip in her program. Oksana Gozeva finished third with 53.46 points. She did a three turn out of her triple Lutz but performed a triple flip-double toe combination and difficult spins.

Russian nationals continue Saturday with the pairs short program, original dance and the ladies free skate.