Russian teen Kostornaia leads French Grand Prix on debut

Paris (AFP) –


Sixteen-year-old Russian Alena Kostornaia enjoyed a stunning Grand Prix figure skating debut on Friday when she snatched the lead after the short programme in Grenoble.

Kostornaia edged compatriot and Olympic champion Alina Zagitova by 76.55 points to 74.24 on the opening day of the French leg of the series. Mariah Bell of the United States was in third.

Kostornaia opened her performance to "Lullaby" and "November" by Max Richter with a triple Axel.

The Junior Grand Prix Final champion went on to complete a triple Lutz and a triple flip-triple toeloop combination.

"I am pleased that I was able to show my maximum, but obviously there is something that can be fixed. Overall it was a good start for my senior competitions," said the 16-year-old.

Zagitova performed a flamenco routine to "Me Voy" by Yasmin Levy which featured a triple flip and double Axel.

"I went out on the ice with the thought that I wanted to enjoy my performance and I think this is what I did," said the 17-year-old.

On the men's side, two-time world champion Nathan Chen, who chose "La Boheme" for his short programme, led with 102.48 points.

Russia's Alexander Samarin is second with 98.48 points with France's Kevin Aymoz in third on 82.50.

Four-time world champion ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron set a new points record in rhythm dance.

The 2018 Olympic Games silver medallists, performing to the soundtrack from hit movie "Fame", scored 88.69 points which was 0.27 better than their previous best of 88.42 set at the world championships in March this year.

The French pair will also take an eight-point lead into Saturday's free programme over closest rivals, Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States.

Grenoble is the third stop on the six-round Grand Prix series with the season finale to take place in Turin in December.