Ashley Wagner delivered a clean performance in the short program to grab the lead at Skate America on Saturday.

Ashley Wagner delivered a clean performance in the short program to grab the lead at Skate America on Saturday.

The defending U.S. champion, who scored 60.61 points, is trying to build on her breakthrough season last year. She placed fourth last year at the world championships, the best for a U.S. woman since 2007.

Adelina Sotnikova was second at 58.93. The 16-year-old has won the last two Russian titles.

American Christina Gao was third at 56.63, followed by France’s Mae Berenice Meite at 54.41.

Russian Alena Leonova, expected to compete for the title, struggled during her routine and was ninth at 46.72.