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Figure Skating

Alena Kostornaia leads early Russian threat to sweep podium at figure skating Grand Prix Finals

Alena Kostornaia leads early Russian sweep while French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron took the lead in the rhythm dance at the Grand Prix Finals on Friday.

France's Papadakis, Cizeron take lead in ice dance heading into Saturday's free

Alena Kostornaia of Russia took the early lead in the women's competition with her short program at the figure skating Grand Prix Finals on Friday. (Alessadnro Di Marco/EPA-EFE)

Alena Kostornaia led a Russian sweep of the top three positions in the women's short program at the figure skating Grand Prix Finals on Friday, with Olympic champion Alina Zagitova second.

The 16-year-old Kostornaia, who's in her first senior season, was the only skater with a clean landing on a triple axel and scored 85.45 points to take the lead ahead of Saturday's free skate.

Zagitova scored 79.60 for second after a clean program, though she doesn't have the triple axel in her repertoire.

Anna Shcherbakova was third on 78.27.

WATCH | Alena Kostornaia lead Russian threat to sweep podium: 

Alena Kostornaia leads her fellow Russian comrades Alina Zagitova and Anna Shcherbakova following the women's short program at the 2019-20 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Turin, Italy. 6:49

Kostornaia and Shcherbakova have stepped up to the senior level this season, along with Alexandra Trusova, who placed fifth after a fall, finishing just behind fourth-placed Bradie Tennell of the United States.

All four of the Russians in the Grand Prix Finals share the same coach, Eteri Tutberidze.

Sui Wenjing, Han Cong land historic pairs gold

Sui Wenjing and Han Cong became the first Chinese duo in a decade to win the pairs gold medal at the Grand Prix Finals, beating compatriots Peng Cheng and Jin Yang.

Two-time world champions Sui and Han scored a total of 221.69 to win, keeping up a winning streak in competitions going back to the start of last season.

WATCH | Sui and Han capture 1st Grand Prix final title:

Reigning world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong cruised to a 1st place finish at the 2019-20 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Turin, Italy. 8:41

Peng and Jin were second on 204.27 after posting the best score in the free skate to recover from a disappointing fifth in Thursday's short program.

Anastasia Mishina and Alexander Galliamov placed third for Russia on 203.13.

Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., were fourth in the free skate and fifth overall with a combined score of 197.99.

"We were happy to have a step up after a disappointing short program," Moore-Towers said. "Sometimes it doesn't seem fair when you do all the training and do good work at home. It happens to everybody and we kept a good attitude so we could turn our day around today."

WATCH | Moore-Towers, Marinaro land top-5 finish:

Canadian duo Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro walked away with a 5th place pairs finish in their ISU Grand Prix Finals debut. 8:09
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Papadakis, Cizeron lead ice dance

Earlier, French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron took the lead in the rhythm dance.

Skating a program with a 1980s retro theme, the Olympic silver medallists scored 83.83 as they aim to remain unbeaten this season.

WATCH | Papadakis, Cizeron lead following the Rhythm Dance:

The French duo of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron lead following the Rhythm Dance at the 2019-20 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Turin, Italy. 6:23

Canada's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are parked last, having scored 79.53 in their rhythm dance. 

WATCH | Canada's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are 6th heading into free dance:

Canada's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are in sixth place heading into the Free Dance at the 2019-20 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Turin, Italy. 6:47

"It was the best skate we've had energy-wise but we're disappointed overall," Gilles said.

Last year's Grand Prix Finals winner, the U.S. pair of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, was second on 82.72 after their Marilyn Monroe-themed skate.

The other American pair of Madison Chock and Evan Bates were third with less than a one-point advantage over two Russian pairs.

CBCSports.ca will have live coverage as the Grand Prix Finals conclude on Saturday beginning at 7 a.m. ET. 

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