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When 15-year-old Polina Edmunds took to the ice for a second day in Sochi on Thursday to compete in the ladies free skate program, she needed a lot to overcome to bring an Olympic medal back home to her home in San Jose.
Still, after her skate, including incredibly hard moves and one fall, she earned her personal best score of 122.21 landing herself a No. 3 spot -- at least for about 20 minutes -- more than halfway through the program.
But in the end, Polina came in ninth, behind Americans Gracie Gold, who came in fourth place, and Ashley Wagner, who took sixth place. Russia's Adelina Sotnikova took home gold, Korea's Yuna Kim took silver, and Italy's Carolina Kostner stunned the skating world by taking home a bronze.
Still, Polina -- and her friends and family watching in both Sochi and Silicon Valley -- thought she did great.
"She was beautiful," said her ballet teacher, Maggie Parungao-Ferla at Dance Theatre International in San Jose, who held a second watch party for Polina at her San Jose dance school.
"I think it's great for her first time at the Olympics," said ballet friend Phallyn Navarro, 14, of San Jose. "I'm going to give her a big hug when she gets back. Hopefully she'll go back for the next Winter Olympics."
Based on her Instagram post, it looks as if Polina was happy with finishing in the Top 10, and she thanked everyone who "supported me and believed in me."
The pros thought she skated well, too.
In Sochi, Olympian-turned-commentator Tara Lipinski called Polina among the "most reliable" American skater who makes moves look "easy breezy." Olympian-turned-commentator Johnny Weir was impressed by Polina's triple Lutzes and other extremely difficult moves. He called her "fabulous."
Still, Polina, dressed in white with sparkling silver and blue stones, had one quick fall on the ice, from which she recovered like a professional and kept skating with a smile on her face.
Afterward, she took to the bench with her coach, David Glynn, and was her typical cheery self. She waved two stuffed animals -- a pink hedgehog given to her by a Bay Area girl and red-white-and-blue bear from her coach -- she had carried with her in a bag to Russia. On Wednesday, she held an elephant given to her at Sharks Ice and a lion, the school mascot at Archbishop Mitty High School, after her program.
Before Polina skated, her family spoke to NBC Bay Area's Janelle Wang. Her father, John Edmunds, said he was "very proud" of his daughter, who skated "clean" on Wednesday and "did a great job." Her mother, Nina Edmunds, who is a native of Russia and one of Polina's skating coaches, appeared a bit more nervous, simply saying her daughter did "very well."
Polina's brothers, James, 17, and Daniel, 12, are also with her, along with her best friend Anna Fry, who attends Willow Glen High School in San Jose, Anna's mother, and a few friends from Russia. Her older brother said he was at a loss for words.
And even though there was school this week, her classmates at Archbishop Mitty High School watched Polina, too. Everyone thought she was fantastic.
"They all watched," said Maureen Picone, the mother of one of Polina's friends. "They had it going all through the school. There were screens all over the place. The teachers were streaming it."