Ice Network

Edmunds full of confidence entering new season

With foot injury behind her, American sets high goals for Olympic campaign
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Polina Edmunds has her sights set on making the U.S. Olympic team now that she's fully recovered from a foot injury. -Getty Images

Polina Edmunds enters every competition with the same number in mind: Number One. Speaking backstage at Friday's "An Evening with Champions" at Harvard University, the two-time U.S. silver medalist spoke of her plans for the season with her usual confidence.

"My major goal is to make the Olympic team at nationals," Edmunds said. "That means the top three spots, normally. My goal is number one, that's the goal every time. If I can skate a clean program with the elements that I plan to do at nationals, I definitely think it's possible for me to be national champion this year. It's just going to come down to performing well on the spot, as usual. And then as far as the Olympics, the ultimate goal is to win that, too."

Edmunds, 19, competed for the first time since January 2016 at the Glacier Falls competition in July. She finished eighth, which raised some eyebrows. But, after a long injury layoff, Edmunds had only started jumping again in June. She says that she is on track now, although time is short.

After the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Edmunds withdrew from all her competitions for the rest of the year as she dealt with a bone bruise on the navicular bone in her right foot. She didn't compete at the 2017 U.S. championships but finally got the go-ahead to start skating last March and to try jumps in June. She's still in the process of returning to form.

Edmunds admits that she felt some nerves at Glacier Falls after not competing for a year and a half. She says they were routine jitters, though.

"Normal competition nerves," she said. "It was nice because it wasn't like anything felt different when I stepped on the ice for my warm-up and my program. Usually I'm very headstrong and confident in my ability to perform well and really turn it on for a performance, so I wanted to make sure that I was still the same in that respect. I did exactly what I expected to do at the competition, so it felt really good. It was a big accomplishment and stepping stone."

Edmunds didn't skate at all between last November and March, and she's returned to the ice by taking her training slowly and methodically.

"My progress has been really good," she said. "I've been taking things one step at a time and really taking my time throughout the summer to get everything back the right way and not rush it, because I don't want to re-injure myself and I want to make sure my technique is the same."

Edmunds also says she's mindful about not doing too many repetitions of jumps so she won't aggravate or strain her foot.  

"I'm being careful with that, but still putting everything into my training, because there's really no time until nationals and the Olympics," she said. "It's been going really well, and I'm getting better and better each week. Of course, it's extremely difficult; it's a lot harder than my coaches and I thought it was going to be to get everything back. But it's going really well."

Edmunds wouldn't get into the specifics of what her jump layout will be for her Grand Prix event in France in November. She says she has made progress since Glacier Falls, but the final decision won't be made until closer to the event.

"I'm confident with the jump layout I have right now, I have combos and everything," she said. "I'm really far in my progress of getting all my elements back."

Edmunds has worked with choreographer Rudy Galindo since the 2014-15 season. He choreographed two new programs for her for last season, but she never competed them. She'll be keeping both -- the short program to Palladio, and the free skate to "Time to Say Goodbye" -- in the coming season.

"I'm really excited to get to perform the programs and for people to see them," she said. "I think they're really beautiful."

Edmunds says she and Galindo work very well together.

"Rudy's a really talented choreographer and I'm grateful to have gotten to work with him and create some wonderful programs," Edmunds said. "He knows my strengths and really highlights them. Everything meshes well between us. He gives me ideas and I kind of feed off of them as well. It's definitely a team effort and it really gels together in the end."

Off the ice, Edmunds started her second year of college at Santa Clara University this week. She is majoring in communication, and taking four courses in the fall. She says she might cut back to three classes to make room for more training time. She lives on campus, nothing that she goes to class in the morning and trains in the afternoon.

"This summer I've been putting everything into skating so it has been a good and intense summer, just slowly getting focused on that," she said. "I'm starting school next week and it's a great balance, so I'm not completely engulfed in skating. It's a full course load but I think I'll be able to manage it."

Meanwhile, Edmunds carries a new look after getting her braces removed in February but remains lackadaisical about the milestone.

"I was fine with them on, and I'm fine with them off," she said.

At "An Evening with Champions," Edmunds skated to another Rudy Galindo program, "There are Worse Things I Could Do." She was sultry and sassy and very polished.

"I've matured," she said. "I feel that I've grown in my skating and performance quality in the last two years. Of course, I want to be number one. It's like that for everyone, but I don't feel like it's far-fetched. Especially this season, if I can perform well with all the content, I think I can do it, especially with how much I've grown. I think that will really shine through this season."