SOCHI, Russia -- Polina Edmunds had a feeling it would be a good day. While she ate lunch at the Olympic Village, someone stopped by her table.

"Are you Polina?" asked Joe Pavelski.

"Yeah, I'm Polina," she said.

"It's nice to meet you," he said. "Good luck. We're both from San Jose."

That was like, you know, pretty cool. Pavelski, the Sharks forward who's playing for the USA hockey team, was the Olympic athlete that Edmunds had most wanted to find and meet. And can you imagine? He actually came by to introduce himself to her instead.

But what happened a few hours later was way, way, way cooler.

Edmunds introduced herself to the world figure skating stage here at the Winter Games.

And she made a swell first impression.

Swell? I know. It's not an adequate word. Edmunds is just 15 years old, for heaven's sake. Yet she glided onto the ice to begin her short program at the Olympics -- the Olympics! -- as calmly as if she were walking into her sophomore math class at Archbishop Mitty High.

When her cha-cha music began, Edmunds showed no twitch of tenseness. She immediately landed a combination triple jump, bam, bam, and was off.

With her long legs and long arms, Edmunds looked a little bit like Bambi out there, running through the required elements of the program. However, she hit every mark on her jumps. Her choreography had "a few bobbles," as she would say later. But when her scores came up -- good golly, Miss Poli.

I'm not sure what you were doing at age 15. But you probably were not sitting in a kiss-and-cry booth in Russia, watching your name go to the top of the leader list on the Olympic scoreboard, with the announcer saying you stood "first" among all competitors.

Edmunds' name did not stay up there long, of course. There were 18 more skaters left to compete. Some of them did better technical stuff. Some had smoother arm movements and "linking footwork," according to the judges' scores.

But when the evening ended, Edmunds was in seventh place, facing Thursday night's long program that will decide gold, silver and bronze.

Seventh place is a remarkable spot for Edmunds, considering that just a few months ago, she was totally off the radar of the globe's figure skating experts. That was before she finished second at the U.S. national championships to earn her Olympic invitation.

It would still be a huge upset if Edmunds wins a medal here. Too many more accomplished names are ahead of her, including two older American skaters, Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner. A lot of things would have to break right in the long program -- or go wrong for others -- for Edmunds to break onto the podium. That's fine with her.

"I want to enjoy all of this," she said after coming off the ice. "Because no matter what happens, you're still at the Olympics. The only thing I can do is skate a clean program and see what happens."

So there were no nerves at all? Maybe a few at the very start of her program, Edmunds said.

"But it's not really that different than skating somewhere else," she said. "It's cool to see the Olympic rings and everything. But I try to remind myself that ice is ice."

As a reminder to remember that reminder, though, she brought along some friends from San Jose in her equipment bag to the Iceberg Skating Palace. The bag was alongside the ice as she skated. Inside were a miniature Mitty High Monarch mascot, a stuffed lion and a stuffed elephant from her Peninsula Skating Club teammates.

"They always say, 'Trunk's up' for good luck," Edmunds explained.

Yes, she is a high school sophomore, all right. The tendency will be to compare Edmunds with another 15-year-old making her Olympic debut here, the Russian sprite Yulia Lipnitskaya. Last week, Lipnitskaya wowed everyone in the team figure skating event. On Wednesday, the judges put her fifth at the end of the night.

But not all 15-year-old figure skaters are developed the same way. Lipnitskaya is home-schooled and, as a 10-year-old, relocated with her mother from an outlying city to Moscow, where she could study under a big-name Russian coach. By contrast, Edmunds enjoys being a Mitty student and has stayed loyal to her coach, David Glynn, at the San Jose rink where she began skating as a tyke.

Yuna Kim of South Korea is likely to win the gold medal Thursday. But we could be witnessing the start of a rivalry between Lipnitskaya and Edmunds that could play out through the 2018 Olympics and beyond. But first, there is more skating to do here Thursday.

"It's probably a boost to go into the long program with some confidence like this," Edmunds said before she left the Skating Palace.

Trunk's up. Nice to have the world meet you, Polina.

Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/MercPurdy.