Polina Edmunds was first up for Team USA in the women’s figure skating short program and established with verve that Russia isn’t the only country with a 15-year-old jumping prodigy.
Coached in part by her Russian-born mother, the reed-like Edmunds nailed her difficult opening triple Lutz-triple toe combination, then followed with a nicely rendered triple flip. Wearing a neon yellow dress awash in ruffles and crystals, Edmunds clearly enjoyed dancing to “Pink Cherries Cha Cha Cha,” and moved easily into her flying camel spin and layback spin, as the crowd clapped along.
Her score of 61.04 was tops among the 12 skaters to compete, with the medal-contenders to follow, and nearly three points higher than her previous high marks for the program.
The Sochi Games are Edmunds’ first international competition at the senior level.
Edmunds earned her Olympic spot with her silver-medal finish at last month’s U.S. Championships, surprising many — but not her. Under her mother’s tutelage, she started skating before she turned two, took up ballet at age four and has had her sights on the Sochi Games since attending the 2010 U.S. Championships as a junior.
Earlier Wednesday, Ashburn’s Isadora Williams, 18, who is competing for Brazil, was warmly received by the crowd the moment her music, the well-known Russian standard “Dark Eyes,” started playing. Williams stepped out of her opening triple Lutz and was scored just 40.37 points, well off her season’s best. And when she looks as if she might cry when the score was posted, the crowd did its best to cheer her with applause
The top 24 women will advance to Thursday’s free skate. It looks doubtful that Williams will make the cut.