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Polina Edmunds deals with growing pains since Olympics

Polina Edmunds

OSAKA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 29: Polina Edmunds of the USA competes in the Ladies Free Program during day two of ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2014/2015 NHK Trophy at the Namihaya Dome on November 29, 2014 in Osaka, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

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Polina Edmunds described this season, a follow-up to her breakthrough Olympic campaign, as one that’s included shocking mistakes, strict judging, nerves and maturing from girl to woman.

“Puberty is upon me,” she said Friday.

Edmunds goes into the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in two weeks in a very different place than one year ago, when, at 15, she came from nowhere to finish second at Nationals, ninth at the Olympics and eighth at the World Championships. She was the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports in Sochi.

Edmunds spent the last several months adapting to physical changes. Balance and coordination, foundations of so many skills in figure skating -- or most sports -- had to be adjusted.

Even so, Edmunds said she skated mostly clean programs in practices. That’s why she called her mistakes in November competition shocking, such as falls on her first jumps (triple flips) at both of her Grand Prix series starts.

“I was very nervous,” Edmunds said, before correcting herself in a media teleconference. “Well, not very, but it’s just a very competitive sport, and I had really difficult elements.”

Edmunds finished fourth and eighth at Cup of China and NHK Trophy, respectively. She hoped before the season to make the six-woman Grand Prix Final, but she ended up 16th in the qualifying standings.

At the U.S. Championships, many will expect Edmunds to reach the podium and earn one of three spots on the U.S. team for the World Championships in March. But if all U.S. skaters repeat their best Grand Prix season scores, Edmunds will finish sixth in Greensboro.

Edmunds, in her first full senior international season, also pointed to another source of growing pains.

“I am a newcomer, so the judges are going to be a little more strict with me,” she said in opening remarks before answering reporters’ questions, adding later, “It shouldn’t be about countries or specific skaters or how long you’ve been skating. I feel that it should be about how you do that day.”

The biggest goal is far off, the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics. It’s OK if her results aren’t what she would like them to be the rest of this season, or even next season.

“I’m happy that I went through these changes [puberty] right now, versus later in the next four years,” Edmunds said. “Now I can really grow with my skating.”

Edmunds said she’s also working on becoming more mentally strong, but that the expectations many placed on her for this season were not more than she could handle.

“I went through all of those nerves and everything last year, and I skated some great programs at the Olympics and Worlds,” she said.

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