San Jose teenager Polina Edmunds twirled and jumped her way into the Olympic picture Thursday night with a performance that stunned the figure skating scene if not those who have been paying close attention.
The Archbishop Mitty sophomore scored a personal best 66.75 points to finish second in the short program at the U.S. Olympic trials at TD Garden in Boston.
"It couldn't have been much better," she told reporters. "I shouldn't be surprised. I have all the elements. I just went out and did them."
Gracie Gold, who trains in El Segundo with coach Frank Carroll, leads the competition with 72.12 points heading into the free skate Saturday. Arcadia's Mirai Nagasu, who took fourth at the Vancouver Games, is third. Ashley Wagner, the two-time reigning national champion, is fourth after stumbling on her combination jump.
The top three after the free skate will earn trips to the Winter Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia.
Most skating experts didn't consider Edmunds, 15, a serious contender to make the Olympic team despite her finishing fourth last month at the Junior Grand Prix Finale in Japan.
The 2013 U.S. junior champion was unhappy with her short program in Japan and promised to regroup at the national championships.
Three-time Olympic medalist Marina Klimova pulled Edmunds aside just before she took the ice.
"Just be Polina Edmunds," said Klimova, who choreographs Edmunds' programs.
Skating almost flawlessly to a cha-cha medley, the teen mesmerized the crowd, many who didn't know who she was before this performance.
Edmunds, who has grown up skating at Sharks Ice San Jose, knew exactly what she needed when making her senior-level debut as the last of 21 skaters. But she said beforehand she was focused only on her performance.
"I've been training this program like this all year," she said. "I've competed at a lot of competitions this year, internationally, so I know what happens and I know everything I need to do. When I came out here tonight, I knew how to get into the zone and go out there and skate like I've been training."
Edmunds is trying to become the Bay Area's first Olympic singles skater since 1992 when Kristi Yamaguchi of Fremont won the gold medal. She is coached by her mother, Nina Edmunds, and David Glynn.
Meanwhile, Gold, 18, debuted a new short program after scrapping one her coach deemed too modern.
"It puts me in a really good position," she told reporters. "We still have a whole warm-up full of wonderful women, but I think I'm in a good position mentally and physically."
Stanford junior Rachael Flatt finished 20th in what she says will be her last national championships.
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir of Boston took the lead in the pairs competition with a score of 73.13 points.