A Sochi Olympic bronze medallist, a former World Champion and runner up, plus a current US Champion showed up for the final and tenth ISU Challenger Figure Skating competition in Zagreb, Croatia this morning.
One of the most elegant skaters to ever grace the ice, Carolina Kostner, at 29-years-of-age, made a comeback to the competitive ranks skating to a contemporary drum-only short program, which is a major departure from her previous lyrical, almost luminescent, style.
But oh, what a magnificently executed piece of choreography it was. Kostner landed a relatively easy triple toe/triple toe combo and stumbled on the triple loop landing, yet it mattered not as she demonstrated how and why her performances have stood tall above other more gifted technical skaters.
Competing in the strong field is three-time Australian Champion Kailani Craine and Sochi Olympian Brooklee Han who both recorded personal bests.
Craine delivered her first triple flip/triple loop jump combination at her first try this season in a character-laden and mature short program that also included steps into the more difficult triple lutz instead of her safer triple loop, earning 54.05 points and 7th place.
"Today was a good day because I finally landed my triple triple first time in comp," Kailani said from Zagreb.
"Galina and I had the plan to go for it and I'm glad that I stuck to the plan. Of course I had a few errors, but they were minor and fixable, most importantly I moved forward with my goal this evening. I hope tomorrow I can beat my personal best in the free program again, this is the plan."
It was also a clean program for Brooklee Han, scoring 53.65 with a triple lutz/double toe combination and triple salchow, finishing the day in 9th place.
US Champion Gracie Gold had a horror day, falling on the lutz and missing the take-off for the double axel, but still managed to stay in the top ten.
Carolina Kostner is easily in the lead with 69.95 points followed by Amber Glenn from USA who had a magnificent skate and currently in 3rd place is Russian Alena Leonova, who also delivered a high quality short program.
The final free program will be skated from 5am (AEDT) Saturday morning.