Reigning Olympic champion Tara Lipinski completed three triples last night to take the lead in the women's competition of the World Professional Figure Skating Championship before 10,622 at MCI Center.
Skating to "Genie in a Bottle," Lipinski edged former world champion Denise Biellmann and France's Surya Bonaly in her first appearance in the event.
"This is the best program I skated in all the competitions this year, just the way I performed," she said. "I felt really good with the audience. I thought my jumps went really well."
Lipinski, 17, was the only one of five women skaters to complete a triple lutz in the technical program.
Lipinski, who turned professional after her 1998 Olympic victory, said she likes the competitiveness of the world championship event. "It's a new event for me," she said. "It's a new atmosphere. Doing other pro events, it's more fun. It's more like a show. Whereas this, the atmosphere is a little more intense and you really get that competitive feeling when you go out there. And for me that's the best way I skate, under pressure."
Lipinski, who skated last, followed Biellmann, whose elegant interpretation of Debussy's "Beau Soir" featured a combination jump. Biellmann, the 1981 world champion who celebrates her 37th birthday today, was second. Bonaly finished third, followed by former world champion Oksana Baiul and Tonia Kwiatkowski.
In the men's competition, Olympic champion and five-time Russian champion Alexei Urmanov completed four triples, including a triple lutz, to finish first. Reigning Olympic champion Ilia Kulik was second and Olympic champion and six-time world professional champion Brian Boitano was third.
Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko, 1997 U.S. Open champions, took the lead over Olympic silver medalists Elena Betchke and Denis Petrov of Russia in the pairs competition. Reigning Olympic champions Oksana Kazakova and Artur Dmitriev of Russia came in third.
In ice dance, four-time U.S. champions Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow were ahead of Maya Usova and Evgeny Platov. The two-day event concludes tonight.