Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The queen is still on top, but her reign has some worthy challengers.
South Korea's Kim Yuna began her quest for a second straight Olympic gold medal by posting the top score on Wednesday in the women's short program at the Sochi Olympics.
But Kim's advantage is slim. She scored a 74.92 as the 17th performer and her lead held solid until Italy's Carolina Kostner put together a routine that netted her a score of 74.12.
Russia's Adelina Sotnikova then sent the home crowd into a frenzy with a routine that scored at 74.64, putting her a mere .28 behind Kim, known in her home country as Queen Yuna.
Kim's score on Wednesday was good enough to put her first going into Thursday's free skate, with medals awarded following that event. Kim, a two- time world champion, is aiming to become the first repeat gold medalist in the ladies' singles since Katarina Witt in 1984 and '88.
The 23-year-old used a score of 78.50 in the short program en route to gold four years ago in Vancouver and was solid in Sochi despite a foot injury suffered in September that held her out of action until December.
Japan's Mao Asada, who won a silver four years ago, fell during her routine and was 16th with a score of 55.51.
The U.S. saw its three skaters finish in the top seven, led by Gracie Gold's score of 68.63 that landed her in fourth.
Ashley Wagner was sixth following a score of 65.21, putting her behind 15- year-old Russian fan-favorite Yulia Lipnitskaya. She earned a score of 65.23 despite a fall during her routine on a triple flip.
Another 15-year-old had a solid showing in American Polina Edmunds, who set a new season-best with a score of 61.04 to put her in seventh place.
The American woman have something to prove after failing to win an Olympic medal for the first time since 1964 four years ago in Vancouver. In fact, there's only been one U.S. medalist in the ladies' singles in the past two Olympics and that was a silver by Sasha Cohen in 2006.