Gold takes lead after short program at NHK Trophy

OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Gracie Gold of the United States took the lead after the short program at the NHK Trophy on Friday, boosting her chances of qualifying for the Grand Prix Final.

The U.S. champion hit all her jumps to score 68.16 points and finish ahead of Alena Leonova of Russia with 68.11. Kanako Murakami of Japan was third with 64.38.

Gold is vying for one of two open spots for next month’s GP Final in Barcelona. She earned a bronze medal at Skate America last month.

The men’s short program is later Friday.

In pairs, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada finished first in the short program with 72.70 points. Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia were second with 64.60 and world junior champions Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin of China were third with 60.15.