Ice Network

Edmunds wants to 'perform to every row' in 2016-17

Role of spectator gives 18-year-old new perspective; Sui, Han trade barbs
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Polina Edmunds will enroll at Santa Clara University in the fall, a short drive from her training rink in San Jose, California. -Jay Adeff

Polina Edmunds strolled the fifth floor concourse of Boston's TD Garden last Saturday rocking white jeans, looking every inch the Northern California sophisticate: tall, blonde, with casual-yet-elegant style. Tweens from all corners converge. The boldest scurry up to ask for selfies, and Edmunds is happy to oblige.

"Not long ago, I was like them, asking for autographs at nationals from skaters," she said. "And now, I'm friends with those skaters."

She wasn't supposed to watch the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships from the stands last week. A silver-medal performance at the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January, where she won the short program over Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold, put her on the U.S. world team. But a bone bruise on her right foot, aggravated by breaking in new boots, made her a cheerleader instead of a competitor.

"I'm happy to be here, but my heart is a little sad," Edmunds said. "It's a great opportunity to skate at a world championships in your home country, so it's definitely disappointing. But I'm just soaking it all up and putting all my effort into cheering on my U.S. teammates."

Edmunds could have competed in Boston; her doctors, and U.S. skating officials, gave her the go-ahead, she said. But her most challenging elements -- including the triple lutz-triple toe loop combination in both programs -- were limited due to the injury.

"[The boots] are broken in now. They feel great but just the beating in of them at the start, my foot was already bruised," she said. "I just felt if I was going to compete at worlds, I wanted to be 100 percent and with my strongest difficulty to represent the U.S. It seemed wiser to heal, and it is a middle year in the four years between Olympics, (so) it's not super important in the long term."

Edmunds has happier things to occupy her thoughts. The 18-year-old San Jose, California, native graduates from Archbishop Mitty High School on May 28. This fall, she plans to enroll in Santa Clara University, a short drive from Sharks Ice, where she trains under David Glynn and her mother, Nina.

The private Jesuit university, with its palm trees, rose bushes and Mission-style architecture, often has its 106-acre campus ranked among the most beautiful in the United States.

"It was definitely one of my dream schools to apply to as a high school student, so it was a great moment of release and happiness when I got that acceptance," she said. "I think it is maybe 10 minutes from my ice rink. It's in a great location; it's a beautiful school, and it's great academically. It's pretty perfect."

Fall classes start in September. Edmunds is interested in communications, including public speaking, but is eager to try several different areas of study.

"I'm just getting into the whole college thing," she said. "I'm really excited to be going into that part of my life."

The other part of Edmunds' life also beckons. She and choreographer Rudy Galindo are hard at work choreographing two numbers she will perform during Stars on Ice U.S. tour, starting April 15 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. 

"I am doing a kind of rhythmic piece and a ballet piece; two numbers, very different," she said. "I'm excited to put those in an arena and focus on the skating part, because there is no competition.

"I'm grateful to be part of the tour again. I was part of it in 2014 after the Olympics, and that experience opened me up to the whole performance aspect of skating. You feed off of the music, the lights and the crowd, and it's definitely about the actual skating, not just the tricks."

Galindo, who choreographed both of Edmunds' competitive programs for the 2014-15 season, will work with her on both her short program and free skate for next season.

Watching the competition in Boston has given Edmunds firm ideas of how she would like to improve next season.

"I really want to be able to skate to the full arena," she said. "It's so different up close and sitting far up, and I really want to be able to perform to every row. That's what I'm taking away from being a spectator at this competition. It's pretty obvious to me watching who is going full out with their body movements, and who is not. That's definitely going to be one of my goals in the coming season."

Sui to Han: You talk too much

When Wenjing Sui and Cong Han first hit the senior international scene at 2010 Skate America, the tiny 15-year-old shyly took a backseat to her outgoing 18-year-old partner during interviews and press conferences.

No more. In Boston, a confident Sui, now 20, kept the press corps laughing, repeatedly cracking jokes at her partner's expense. 

"It is always like this," Han told reporters in the mixed zone after their silver-medal free skate. "She is like this every day in training."

"Yes I am, because he always talks so much," Sui replied through interpreter (and icenetwork contributor) Wei Xiong. "He talks, and talks, and talks. It annoys me so much."

Han appealed to reporters for understanding.

"I have to talk a lot," he said. "There is the technique, the performance. I need to keep reminding her of all the things we need to do."

"Talk, talk, talk," Sui replied.