Anna Shcherbakova, representing the Russian Skating Federation, leads the women's singles discipline after the ladies short programme ©Getty Images

Skaters representing the Russian Skating Federation lead the ladies and pairs competitions after the short programmes opened the World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden.

Anna Shcherbakova, who turns 17 at the weekend, has the chance of giving herself an early birthday present, putting herself into the lead in the ladies singles event, after scoring 81.00 in the short programme.

Shcherbakova, making her debut at the senior World Championships, scored well after impressively completing a difficult triple Lutz triple loop combination.

In second place is Kihira Rika of Japan who hit her trademark triple axel and a difficult triple flip triple toe combination on her way to scoring 79.08.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, also representing the Russian Skating Federation, sits in third place with 78.86 points, after a routine that featured her own unique triple axel.

In fourth place is Karen Chen of the United States who scored 74.40 while the top five is completed by Yelim Kim of South Korea who scored 73.63.

The ladies singles discipline is scheduled to conclude on Friday (March 26) with the ladies free skate.

In the pairs competition, the Russian Skating Federation are also in the box seat following the short programme, thanks to Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii who scored 80.16 points.

Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii lead the pairs discipline following the short programme ©Getty Images
Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii lead the pairs discipline following the short programme ©Getty Images

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, representing China sit in second place with 77.62.

The Russian Skating Federation currently fill three of the top four places in the discipline with Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov third after scoring 75.79, while Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov sit in fourth with 71.46.

A second Chinese pair round off the top five with Cheng Peng and Yang Jin in fifth with 71.32.

The pairs competition is scheduled to conclude tomorrow with the free skate, while earlier in the day the men’s singles competition is due to begin with the short programme.

The build-up to the Championships has been dominated by concerns over the coronavirus protocols at the event, with campaigners claiming some of the measures in place are "woefully inadequate."

To highlight their concerns, campaigners shared a video on social media ahead of yesterday’s ladies practice, which showed a group of skaters changing their footwear in close proximity to one another without wearing masks.

The release of the video came after the ISU had issued a statement a day earlier saying the "health and safety of all participants were its number one priority" and that "strict and comprehensive protocols" were in place including "measures of distancing and masks."

A positive case was identified within the competition bubble earlier in the week, with the infected individual, who has not been named, withdrawn from taking part in the event.