Gracie Gold's debut in a senior figure skating competition was solid.
Gold, 16, who trains in suburban Chicago, overcame a mistake on a triple lutz jump to finish fourth in the short program Thursday at the World Team Trophy competition in Tokyo.
The singles free skate portion of the event is Saturday.
Gold, reigning U.S. junior champion, had 59.07 points, leaving her ahead of fifth-place Ashley Wagner (57.52), the reigning U.S. senior champion, and Alena Leonova of Russia, silver medalist at last month's world championships (9th with 50.92).
"I thought it went really well," Gold said via telephone. "It's a great first senior competition to do. I think (I showed) I can hold my own."
Gold's component (or artistic) scores were predictably low - more than seven points less than Kostner's and seventh best of the 12 skaters.
While presentation is the weaker part of her skating, such scores also reflected the wrongheaded idea that building a reputation over time is more important to judging than what a skater does on a given day. That allows judges to prop up their favorites (hello, Patrick Chan.)
Reigning world champion Carolina Kostner won the short program with 69.48 points, the highest short program score in the world this season. Akiko Suzuki of Japan, whose score (66.55) had been the highest, also topped it at 67.51, with Kanaka Murakami of Japan third at 63.78.
Gold was impressed by her first live look at Kostner.
"She is such an elegant skater," Gold said.
The top four finishers all opened with successful triple-triple combinations, but Gold's (triple flip-triple toe) was both the most difficult and the biggest point-getter. She then lost 1.30 points for stepping out of the landing on the ensuing lutz but likely would have been fourth without the error.
"I got too close to the boards and had to turn out of the lutz," Gold said.
Wagner, fourth at worlds, got a negative grade of execution on her combination and then fell on a double axel.
The team trophy is decided by giving each of six countries points for its standing in each phase of singles, pairs and dance. It has been added to the Olympic program for 2014.
After short programs in singles and dance (pairs is Friday), Japan and the U.S. are tied for first at 45.
In the men's event, U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott had his best short program of the season (86.98) but finished behind Daisuke Takahashi of Japan (world season high of 94) and world champion Chan of Canada (89.81), who fell on a triple axel but was saved again by the usual Chanflation in his scores.
The other U.S. man, Adam Rippon, was 7th.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. won the dance short program.
Gold was the only one of the 12 women skaters with no senior international experience. She got it in a hurry, drawing first in the short program.
"I don't mind that, because you are coming right out of the warmup," she said. "I was ready."
Gold will be in the final group Saturday, when her free skate must be 30 seconds longer than what she had done as a junior. She has added spirals to fill the additional time.
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