By Morgan O’Brien
In February, most students at San Jose, California’s Archbishop Mitty High School will be focused on homework and midterm tests. Sophomore Polina Edmunds’ thoughts may be elsewhere, because from February 19 to 20, the figure skater will take center stage in the Iceberg Skating Palace representing Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“I haven’t talked about it with my teachers yet,” said the 15-year-old skating phenomenon, “but I’ll be taking my work with me and I’ll bring my iPad to keep tabs on things.”
While Polina keeps on top of her schoolwork, her Olympic journey will also double as a homecoming. Her mother, Nina, was born in Tver and was a skating instructor in Russia before marrying Polina’s father and moving to the San Francisco Bay Area.
“It’s so special that the Olympics are in Sochi,” said Polina, who last visited Russia when she was 2. “We have so many friends and family there; this is exciting, almost like it was meant to be.”
Polina — the runner-up at January’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston — says her skating is strengthened by her Russian heritage and American upbringing.
“I definitely have some Russian influence in my skating, and I think that’s to my benefit,” said Polina, who began skating at 2. “While I wouldn’t say that there’s a specific style of skating, it’s more of a style of training, and I’m very fortunate to have had both styles of training.”
Through this perspective, Polina recognizes her sport’s ability to promote understanding across cultures.
“Even though we live in different areas, [my fellow competitors and I] are all so similar because we got to where we are through hard work,” she said.
Thus far, Polina’s hard work has paid tremendous dividends, and the Olympics’ global audience represents a perfect venue to showcase her proud past as well as figure skating’s bright future.