Russia's Anna Shcherbakova skated into first place at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships on Wednesday in Sweden while Japan's Rika Kihira hit a triple axel and sits in second after the women's short program.
Kihira earned 79.08 points to Shcherbakova's 81.00, while fellow Japanese Kaori Sakamoto was penalized for a triple lutz edge violation to slot into sixth on 70.38 points at the event being held in Stockholm.
Satoko Miyahara made several mistakes and is in 16th place with 59.99 points.
"I came here 100 percent prepared so I wasn't worried," said Kihira, who performed to "The Fire Within."
"I was happy to take part in a competition. I'm in a good position to earn a berth (for next year's Winter Olympics in Beijing)," she said.
Kihira had a slight under-rotation on her triple axel and the back end of a triple flip-triple toe, but was otherwise solid. The two-time national champion is looking to become the first female figure skater from Japan to win a world title in seven years.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia, who landed a solid triple Lutz-triple toe and triple flip, is in a very close third at 78.86 points.
On Wednesday, the International Skating Union revealed that a second individual tested positive for coronavirus at worlds, but did not disclose the person's name. The first positive case was identified by the ISU on Monday.
No spectators are allowed to attend the March 22-28 competition at the Ericsson Globe venue, which serves as a qualifying event for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
Russian skaters are representing the Figure Skating Federation of Russia team. Russia has been banned from using its name, flag and anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years as a penalty for widespread doping violations.