Adelina Sotnikova of Russia took the lead after the short program at the Cup of China on Friday in Beijing.
The 17-year-old from Moscow skated to "Habanera" and earned a score of 66.03 points. Sotnikova, the 2011 world junior champion, opened with a triple loop-triple loop combination and received high marks for her technical elements.
Carolina Kostner of Italy, the 2012 world champion, fell on her opening combination jump and is second with 62.75.
Anna Pogorilaya of Russia is third heading into Saturday's free skate. Pogorilaya, who took the bronze medal at last season's world juniors, is competing in her first senior Grand Prix event.
Kanako Murakami of Japan is fourth after getting relatively low technical scores, while Agnes Zawadzki of the United States fell on a double toe loop and is seventh with 53.73 points.
Yan has big lead in men’s singles
In men's singles, Han Yan of China opened with a triple axel and landed a quad toe loop on the way to a personal-best score of 90.14. The 2012 world junior champion has a huge nine-point lead over Maxim Kovtun of Russia.
Yan, a 17-year-old from Harbin, skated to "Viper's Drag" and thrilled the home crowd with his excellent technique. His score is five points higher than he has ever achieved in the short program.
Kovtun is second with 81.84 after landing two quads in a routine that was marred only by a fall in the step sequence.
Takahiko Kozuka of Japan two-footed the landing on his quad and struggled with his combination jump and is third with 81.62, followed by Denis Ten of Kazakhstan in fourth with 77.05 despite touching the ice on his triple axel and missing his combination jump.
Florent Amodio of France is fifth after hitting the ice on his quad salchow and struggling with his program, and Richard Dornbush of the United States botched his opening quad salchow and touched the ice on a triple axel and stands sixth.
In ice dance, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloview of Russia are first after the short dance. The duo scored 65.70 points and lead second-place Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France by more than three points.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States are third with 56.77.
The Cup of China is the third stop on the six-event Grand Prix circuit this season. The competition will culminate with the Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka, Japan, in early December.