SOCHI, Russia -- Polina Edmunds didn't march in the Opening Ceremony of her first Winter Olympics.

At least, not officially.

Edmunds, the Archbishop Mitty sophomore, didn't arrive in Sochi, Russia, until Saturday after spending the past 1½ weeks in Germany and Austria training for the women's figure skating competition that begins Wednesday at the Iceberg Sports Palace.

But Edmunds, 15, got up and marched in front of the television in the lobby of her hotel in Graz, Austria, as soon as the U.S. team entered the Olympic stadium here.

Edmunds, wearing a Team USA jacket, said Saturday she didn't mind missing the parade of nations because of what's at stake.

"You have to save yourself, save your legs, save your mind from all of the excitement and focus on what you have to do," she said after a news conference with three American figure skaters.

"It seemed like the smart thing to do. To fly to Sochi would have been really fun but emotionally draining and I would have been pretty tired."

Edmunds surprised the figure skating world by finishing second at the U.S. championships last month to earn one of three Olympic berths, joining stars Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold in Sochi.

The contrast of the three could be seen Saturday on their lips -- Wagner and Gold spoke to reporters with red lipstick and made-up faces. Edmunds, on the other, looked like the San Jose schoolgirl that she is.


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But she's also an entertainer and enjoys the spotlight. When a woman from "Good Morning, America," asked Edmunds to say good morning to the folks back home, she was game.

It took her two takes to satisfy the network.

Few reporters or analysts are talking about Edmunds as having a serious chance in Sochi, just like before the national championships in Boston.

The competition Wednesday and Thursday features reigning Olympic champion Yuna Kim of South Korea, the prohibitive favorite. Another 15-year-old, Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya, also is a headliner after easily winning the short and long programs in the new team competition. The teen soundly defeated Wagner in the short and Gold in the long.

Edmunds is an afterthought.

"Heading into this competition flying under the spotlight suits Team Polina really well," Edmunds coach David Glynn said. "We're really hammering out the training in the last week and half. It has prepared her for what is to come this week."

Edmunds needed a break from the hoopla in the Bay Area after making the Olympic team. She is the first Olympic singles skater from the region since Brian Boitano competed at the Lillehammer Games in 1994.

The historical link to the Bay Area has been important to Edmunds, who has consulted with Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi's coach about preparing for Sochi.

But Saturday was another session of answering the same questions she has been asked since making the Olympic team.

Edmunds is so new to the scene few know much about her. In fact, Sochi will be her senior international debut.

She was asked about attending school and doing homework. Edmunds did her geometry assignments on the plane from Austria to Sochi. But she probably didn't need to worry too much about them.

After all, her teacher is Glynn's mom.

It seems reporters do know that her mother is Russian and that she understands the language. Her mother Nina's family lives in Moscow and Tver, where she is from. The relatives are not expected to make it to Sochi.

When approached by a Russian reporter, Polina asked, "Can I answer in English?"

Da.

The reporter asked in Russian, Edmunds responded in English.

That was the San Jose skater's first hours in Russia since she was 2.

She barely had time to see her room in the athletes village but raved about the view of the Black Sea.

Two young Russian volunteers approached Edmunds just before she left the press center in Olympic Park. They wanted to take photos.

Then the two women asked Edmunds to join hands and make a wish. It's a Russian tradition for a new visitor, they said.

Edmunds, smiled and complied.

You didn't need to ask her what she wished for.

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.

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