Russians sweep GP Final short program

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Elizaveta Tuktamysheva led a Russian teen sweep of the short program at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final on Thursday.

The 17-year-old Tuktamysheva earned a top score of 67.52 points performing to Ravel's "Bolero" on the temporary rink inside Barcelona's International Convention Center.

"I knew I was competing against the strongest girls in the world," said Tuktamysheva. "I was scared the smallest mistake would move me down (the rankings) so I had the motivation to skate clean."

European champion Julia Lipnitskaia, who is 16, was next with 66.24, followed by Elena Radionova (15) and Anna Pogorilaya (16).

Japan's Rika Hongo was fifth, while a shaky performance by 23-year-old American Ashley Wagner received the lowest score of the six finalists with 60.24.

"These younger girls are so strong technically," said Wagner.

In pairs, Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford took the lead with the highest score in the short program.

Tuktamysheva, who was off the ice for three months after breaking her foot in March, said her generation was the result of "strong competition for a long time" in Russia.

Lipnitskaia has yet to win a competition since helping Russia clinch the Olympic team goal in February, when at age 15 she became the youngest figure skating gold medalist in 78 years.

She swaggered through her short program and was all smiles until she saw a disappointing score.

"In today's performance I felt much more confident," said Lipnitskaia. "It was unfortunate I lost a point on the triple flip. That is something I will fix."

Duhamel and Radford earned their season's best score of 74.50 points to edge Olympic and world silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia with 72.33.

Duhamel pumped her fist after concluding their routine choreographed to Ginette Reno's "Un peu plus haut."

"We feel really, really happy," Duhamel said. "We came here with our goal to stand on the podium for the first time at the Grand Prix Final and today was a big step."

The other four pairs will have more ground to make up in Saturday's free skate, with Chinese pair Wenjing Sui and Cong Han recording the third highest score of 66.66.

The men's short program and the short ice dance are on Friday.

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