Grenoble, France

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Mihara holds a lead of 0.31 points after the Ladies Short Program © International Skating Union

Mai Mihara of Japan edged teammate Rika Kihira and Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva to take a slender lead in the Ladies Short Program at the Internationaux de France on Friday. The top three Ladies are separated by less than half a point heading into the Free Skating.

Skating to “It’s Magic”, Mihara produced a triple flip, beautiful double Axel and three level-four spins, but she underrotated the back end of her triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination to earn 67.95 points.

“I’m a little surprised to be sitting here right now. I was lacking a little speed from the beginning. After the NHK Trophy I was practising my triple-triple (combination) very hard and I put a lot of energy in it. I am disappointed that it didn’t happen today, but my motivation goes up and I want to show a clean performance tomorrow,” the Japanese skater said.

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Japan's Rika Kihira currently lies in second place © International Skating Union

Kihira landed a triple flip-triple toe and a triple Lutz in her routine to “Clair de Lune”. However, the NHK Trophy Champion singled her planned triple Axel. She scored 67.64 points.

“I regret the (popped) triple Axel a lot, but I landed the triple flip-triple toe and the triple Lutz cleanly. Tomorrow in practice I’ll check on my triple Axel again. I don’t think much about my score, I just want to leave my mistakes behind,” the 16-year-old said.

Medvedeva nailed a triple Lutz and double Axel in her sassy program to “Orange Colored Sky”, but she struggled with her combination jump, tacking a double toe onto a wobbly triple flip. The two-time World Champion scored 67.55 points.

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Two-time World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva scored 67.55 points © International Skating Union

“The short program was better than at Skate Canada, but I am still disappointed with the performance. But I feel more alive than after the short program at Skate Canada. I’m in third place now and I have the opportunity to fight,” the Olympic silver medalist said.

Marin Honda (JPN) is close to the podium in fourth place on 65.37 points. Maria Sotskova came fifth with 61.76 points while Bradie Tennell (USA) is ranked sixth (61.34 points). Grand Prix Helsinki silver medalist Stanislava Konstantinova (RUS) ruined her chances of making the Grand Prix Final by finishing 10th on 54.91 points after mistakes on two jumping passes.

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