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Aliev takes lead in heated race for men's title

Boikova, Kozlovskii outpace Chinese, Australian teams in pairs short
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Dmitri Aliev of Russia started his quest for the world junior title in style, turning in a superlative enactment of his "Oblivion" short. The Junior Grand Prix Final champion sits atop the leaderboard after collecting a personal-best 83.48 points. -Getty Images

Russia ruled the rink on the first day of competition at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei, with Dmitri Aliev winning the men's short program and Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitri Kozlovskii owning the pairs lead.

Men's

Aliev holds a slim lead over the second- and third-place finishers, Jun Hwan Cha of South Korea and Alexander Samarin of Russia, respectively. All three men achieved personal-best scores.

Performing to "Oblivion" by Astor Piazzolla, Aliev nailed a triple axel, triple lutz-triple toe combination and a triple loop, and picked up a Level 4 for two spins. The Junior Grand Prix Final champion earned 83.48 points.

"I think I did a good job today," Aliev said. "I am very pleased to have set a season's best and with my component scores. For today, it was very good."

Cha matched Aliev, producing a triple lutz-triple toe, triple axel, triple loop and two Level 4 spins in his routine to A Chorus Line, scoring 82.34 points for the performance.

"The short program was good today. I tried not to be nervous and to be calm," Cha said. "After my nationals, I returned to Toronto to train, and I have worked hard on my expression and my choreography."

Samarin's program to "Come with Me Now" by Kongos featured a triple axel, triple loop-triple toe and strong spins, but his triple loop was somewhat shaky. The JGP Final silver medalist collected 82.23 points.

"I am looking calmly at today's result, even though I got a personal best," Samarin said. "But this doesn't affect me because the main task is still to come tomorrow."

Alexander Petrov of Russia sits in fourth and remains in medal contention with 81.29 points. American Vincent Zhou placed fifth (78.97 points), while French champion Kevin Aymoz rounded up the top six.

Reigning world junior silver medalist Nicolas Nadeau of Canada came in seventh (77.20). Defending champion Daniel Samohin of Israel made errors on all three jumping passes to finish 16th (67.00).

Team USA's Andrew Torgashev endured a rough day and failed to qualify for the free, placing 25th in the segment.

Pairs

Continuing Russia's early dominance, Boikova and Kozlovskii vaulted into the lead in the pairs short program, placing themselves ahead of China's Yumeng Gao and Zhong Xie and Australia's Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor. Each of the three aforementioned teams achieved new personal bests.

Boikova and Kozlovskii's performance to Didula's "Flamenco" was highlighted by a double axel and triple twist, as well as a Level 4 lift, footwork and spin, but Boikova touched down on the throw triple flip. The Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalists secured 61.27 points with the performance.

"It was not our best, but we will try to do our best in the free skating," Kozlovskii said. "Aleksandra and I are trying to maximize our connection so we can achieve the best possible results in the shortest time."

Skating to "Cavatina" from the motion picture The Deer Hunter, Gao and Xie produced a triple twist, side-by-side double loops, a triple throw toe loop and a Level 4 step sequence on their way to earning 59.97 points.

"Today's performance was quite good, but we could have done better in some parts, like the speed and the connection," Xie said.

Alexandrovskaya and Windsor opened their "Skyfall" short program with a triple twist and followed it up with side-by-side double axels and a difficult reverse lasso lift. Despite battling through a somewhat wobbly triple flip, the JGP Finalists picked up 59.82 points.

"We're happy with our standing so far," Windsor noted. "In such a short time, we've come a long way. Our results show our hard training."