SOCHI, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Defending champion Kim Yuna of South Korea made a strong comeback to take the lead in a drama-filled ladies' short program of the figure skating at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games on Wednesday as her toughest rivals both made errors.
The 23-year-old Kim, who missed most of season because of a foot injury, picked up 74.92 to approach her chance to become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic figure skating titles in 26 years.
"I've been practising very well in Sochi, and in my country. I had confidence in my short program here," said Kim.
Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, silver medalist in the European Championships in January, was in the second place with 74.64 points, bettering her season's best by near four points.
Carolina Kostner of Italy, winner at the world championships in 2012, came third with 74.12 points.
"I always get nervous before competition. I don't feel pressure. Once the music started, I felt like I was dreaming. I had a lot of thoughts when I was giving my performance," Kim added.
The 17-year-old Sotnikova expected to catch up with Kim in the free skating and she said: "The judges make the decisions and today I'm very grateful to them. I will skate tomorrow and then they will decide on the who, what and where."
Sotnikova's compatriot Julia Lipnitskaia, capable of dethroning the defending champion Kim, landed a triple lutz, a triple toeloop and a double axel, but the 15-year-old fell on a triple flip to score 65.23 points, staying in the fifth place.
"I don't know what happened. My preparation was all fine. I wasn't nervous. I didn't feel too much pressure. The crowd helped me," said the Olympic team event winner Lipnitskaia.
"I feel sad. I wasn't good enough on the jumps. The marks weren't as low as I expected. I can still fight for a medal tomorrow," she added.
Kim and Lipnitskaia are among the few women in the competition who have consistent triple lutz-triple toeloop combinations in their arsenal.
Another strong challenger Mao Asada of Japan, fell on her strongest weapon - triple axel, a jump no other female skater was attempting right now, and just netted 55.51 points to place 16th.
"I didn't skate anywhere near as well as I could. I don't know what to make of this now. All I can do is to give everything I have tomorrow," said Asada, winner at the Grand Prix Final in 2013.
"I couldn't do any of the things I've been working on in training. Once I started the program, I couldn't control my emotions and my body."
The ladies' competitions consist of short program and free skating. Thirty competitors started the short program, and the 24 best-placed competitors qualify for the free skating on Thursday.