The Santa Clara
January 11, 2018
Both an Olympic figure skater and a full-time student, sophomore Polina Edmunds gives Santa Clara an athletic claimto-fame akin to Steve Nash. She is the 2015 Four Continents champion, a two-time U.S. national silver medalist (2014, 2016), and represented the United States at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Edmunds was on track to compete in this year’s Winter Olympics, however, she has had to resign due to a foot injury. Nonetheless, she looks to continue her career as a competitive figure skater and aspires to represent the U.S. at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Jay Mehta: How do you feel about having to withdraw from the Olympics because of an injury?
Polina Edmunds: It’s definitely disappointing because over the past four years I’ve put everything into this season but I’m still young and have a lot going on with school so I’m putting my focus into that. It’s terrible timing but, I’m looking at the bright side. I’m already an Olympian from 2014 so I’ve already experienced it and gone through it all so it’s not as crushing as it could have been.
JM: When you’re training for a competition are you put on a certain diet?
PE: Not necessarily, but I’m mindful of what kinds of food I’m eating. I make sure to eat foods rich in protein and plenty of vegetables.
JM: Do you face pre-competition nerves and how do you battle them?
PE: I definitely face a lot of nerves and anxiety pre-competition, so I try to zone my focus into pretending I’m home at just another day at practice. If I don’t keep calm, I could freak out and make a mistake.
JM: Who goes with you to competitions?
PE: Usually, it’s just me and my coach. My mom is one of my coaches, so she goes everywhere with me. My family and friends only go if it’s a huge competition. They all came with me to Sochi in ‘14 for the Olympics.
JM: Do you design your own costumes? How much input do you have?
PE: We do design our own stuff but you have to have a costume designer with you. As far as the initial input and ideas for design, I tell them what I’m looking for but the actual costume designer will draw up a design and the final product is a mutual agreement between all of us.
JM: Do you ever look at comments people leave on social media about your performances? Do the negative comments affect you?
PE: I do sometimes, and I always see the good and bad comments but the negative comments don’t really affect me because I see it as people who don’t know me or appreciate my style, which is totally fine because everybody has their own taste. If I see a comment that’s really distasteful I know that it’s because they’re probably uneducated.
JM: Is it difficult to have so many people talk about your injuries and speculate about your career path?
PE: It’s a mix because I don’t usually mind it but some people don’t believe my injuries are real and think I’m using them as a “cover up” to withdraw from a competition. However, most people believe me and know that when I get injured it’s real, so it’s fine.
JM: When you came to Santa Clara were you ever nervous that people would receive you differently because you’re a well known figure skater?
PE: I don’t really feel like I’m well known, but I guess a lot of people do know me. I was pretty used to it in high school because that’s when I got my first big break in the Olympics. Santa Clara feels like a bigger version of my high school, but not as many people are from this area. So, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m very recognized.
JM: Do you ever feel it’s important to separate your social and professional lives? Was there ever a worry people would judge you if you decided to go to parties?
PE: I don’t personally because I separate the different things going on in my life. If I’m at a party or doing anything else I’m not at the ice rink training. I know my times to train and I know my times to focus on other things, so what I choose to do with my free time I don’t think affects anybody in any way. What other people think about it doesn’t matter as long as I know that I’m doing what I should be doing.
JM: Who are your best friends in the figure skating community? Are they also Olympians? Do you stay in touch?
PE: There are actually a lot of figure skaters in the area who have gotten really good. One of my friends that I know from growing up, Anthony Ponomarenko, is a junior ice dancer who’s doing really well and just won his first national championship a few months ago. Another friend, Nathan Chen, is the front runner of the Olympic team and could quite possibly become the Olympic gold medalist this year. It’s really exciting!
JM: How to you find ways to make peace with the unfavorable decisions? Or are you able to accept those decisions pretty readily?
PE: I try to see the bigger picture, and not only the immediate ramifications of things. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to withdraw from a giant event because of injury, I’ve been experiencing this for the last two years because my injury has been on again-off-again. It helps to look at the future and remember that I’m still young and that I could still potentially enter the Olympics in 2022. I also like to put my focus into school and things outside of skating. Skating isn’t my entire world and it isn’t the end of the world if I don’t make competitions.
JM: What career would you do outside of skating? After college are you going to only work on figure skating, or work and skate on the side?
PE: I’m a communications major and haven’t decided what direction I want to go in, but I might want to go into television or PR. After I graduate, it will be a year until the 2022 Olympics so I will probably devote that year completely to training, but I don’t know if my foot can handle it so if I weren’t to skate anymore I would go full time into whatever career I’m doing. So, in essence it’s undecided.
Contact Jay Mehta at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.