Leonova takes control at worlds as McCorkell equally impresses
RUSSIAN Alena Leonova holds a surprise lead at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships after an impressive short program in the ladies competition in Nice.
DOWN THE ORDER: Mao Asada is placed fourth at the World Championships and Alena Leonova leads
The 21-year-old has been a regular feature on the podium this season, taking silver at the Cup of Russia and bronze at the NHK Trophy before the turn of the year.
She also finished third at the Grand Prix Final in Canada but couldn't repeat the trick at the European Championships in January as she finished off the podium in seventh.
However on her fourth World Championship appearance, and having placed an agonising fourth last year, Leonova looks determined to claim a medal this time around in France.
She was awarded a score of 64.61 after the short program, giving her a slender advantage over former world junior champion Kanako Murakami of Japan.
Murakami recorded 62.67 for second overall as the big names failed to better them with European champion Carolina Kostner, who won bronze last year, posting 61.00.
Next up were Murakami's teammates Mao Asada and Akiko Suzuki with there little to split the former world champion and the just-turned 27-year-old in Nice.
Asada, who won the world ladies title in 2010 and 2008, was placed fourth with a score of 59.49 with Suzuki, a Four Continents silver medallist two years ago, just behind with 59.38.
Meanwhile Britain's Jenna McCorkell may have been a way behind the top five but she still impressed in her own right to place 12th and qualify through to Saturday's free skate.
McCorkell was awarded a score of 50.42 and, having finished inside the top 20 just twice in six attempts previously, she could be on her way to career-best performance.
© Sportsbeat 2012