Polina Edmunds wakes each morning at 6 a.m. to prepare for her 10th grade classes at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif.
The 15 year old’s favorite course is history, but she is unsure of what she wants to study in university.
She seems like every other teenage girl in America, but she will never be the same after Sunday, when U.S. Figure Skating selected the national silver medalist to represent the delegation at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
She joins 18-year-old Gracie Gold and 22-year-old Ashley Wagner on the team.
“This was my first year senior, so I had nothing to lose,” Edmunds said. “I’m really happy with how it ended up. Since I’m young, I have a lot of years ahead of me, and I wanted to skate well because it was an Olympic year. My choreographer said it all comes down to this.”
Edmunds is the same age Tara Lipinski was in 1998 and Sonja Henie was in 1928, the youngest Olympic champions. The most recent American women to claim Olympic and world titles, Sarah Hughes in 2002 and Kimmie Meissner in 2006, were both 16-year-old underdogs who finished second that year at Nationals, like Edmunds.
It’s even more special the Olympics are in Russia, native home to her mother Nina, who coaches Polina with David Glynn at the Peninsula Skating Club.
Now in the information technology industry, Edmunds’ father, John, was an English teacher in Tver, Russia, a city of 400,000 that is 100 miles north of Moscow and also the home of hockey’s Ilya Kovalchuk. Two of his students were Polina’s mother and grandmother. Like a scene from a movie, John and Nina fell in love, and he brought her to America in 1994. Four years later, Polina was born on May 18, 1998 – as in three months after Lipinski won the gold medal in Nagano.
Although she hasn’t visited Russia since she was two years old, Polina understands the Russian language when her mother speaks to her, but has difficulty speaking it herself. Her uncle and many other friends and family are still residing there, and her grandmother cooks her Russian soup every day.
At her high school, she is required to have six periods and trains during her two off periods, which works out to 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. and after 2:35 p.m. for one or two hours. She also skates on weekend mornings.
Before she won the junior championship last year, Edmunds placed sixth in juniors in her hometown of San Jose. She was seventh in juniors in 2011 and sixth in novice in 2010. This past autumn, she was fourth behind Maria Sotskova in the Junior Grand Prix Final at Fukuoka, Japan, and won events in Belarus and Mexico.
“Take in every experience and every moment, that’s what we’re going to be doing,” pairs champion Simon Shnapir said would be his advice to Edmunds.