Moscow, Russia

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Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS)  2018 © International Skating Union (ISU)

Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin took the lead in the Rhythm Dance on the first day of the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow Friday. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) are currently ranked second and Sara Hurtado/Kirill Khaliavin of Spain lie third.

Stepanova/Bukin put out a characteristic dance to the Paso Doble “Malaguena” and the Tango piece “Carmen Story” that was highlighted by fast twizzles and a curve lift. However, Stepanova lost her balance in the first sequence of the Tango Romantica and almost fell.

The two-time European bronze medalists collected a level four for twizzles and the lift while the Tango sequences merited only the base level and a level one. The Helsinki Grand Prix Champions earned 74.49 points.

“Today not everything worked out, which is a shame since it happened here at home (in Moscow). It is just another experience for us. Tomorrow we want to perform better and learn from our mistakes,” Stepanova said.

Her partner added: “It is difficult to analyze right now (the mistake) as it just happened. We will look at it, but not today as we have the free dance tomorrow and are preparing for it.”

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Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) 2018 © International Skating Union (ISU)

Carreira/Ponomarenko’s dance to “Tango Jalousie” and “Yo Soy Maria” featured level-four twizzles, a level-four rotational lift and a level-three diagonal step sequence. The World Junior silver medalists earned 69.01 points.

“We are very happy with how we skated today, although it was not perfect,” Carreira said.

Ponomarenko, whose parents are the 1992 Olympic Ice Dance Champions Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, added: “My grandmother once again made the long journey from Ekaterinburg - she travelled 26 hours on a train. I also have a grandmother living in Moscow and my mom is in town as well,”

Performing to “I’ve Seen That Face Before” and “Libertango”, Hurtado/Khaliavin earned a level four for their curve lift and a level three and one for the Tango pattern.

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Sara Hurtado/Kirill Khaliavin (SPA)  2018 © International Skating Union (ISU)

However, Hurtado was shaky on the twizzles, which were graded a level two for her and a level four for her partner. The Spanish duo managed a season’s best with 66.40 points.

“It wasn’t our best performance of this program today. There was a lot of improvement in other parts of the program, but we still need to do it as we do it in practice,” Hurtado said.

Natalia Kaliszek/Maksym Spodyriev (POL) are within striking distance of the podium on 66.30 points, followed by Allison Reed/Saulius Ambruvelicius (LTU) on 64.54 points and Sofia Evdokimova/Egor Bazin (RUS/64.05 points).

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