SAN JOSE -- Some came wearing red "Team Polina" shirts. Others waved red, white and blue pom-poms. And the friends and fans who gathered at the Sharks Ice facility shouted with glee as Polina Edmunds took the ice halfway around the world in Sochi, Russia.

But as the 15-year-old figure-skating sensation from San Jose posed motionless before beginning her Olympic Games' free skate Thursday morning, Stanley's restaurant above the Sharks Ice rinks nearly went silent. About 50 people seemed to collectively hold their breath as they stared wide-eyed at the big-screen televisions.

When Edmunds had completed a solid performance that would place her ninth, the room exploded with cheers and clapping.

"The whole time I was thinking, 'Polina, please make this jump, please make this jump, please make this jump,' " said a beaming Acadia Szmauz, 11, of San Jose. "And she did. I'm just so proud of her. She did really, really well."

Edmunds may not be returning home with a medal, but that doesn't matter to those who know her best and had come together to cheer for her as a group.

"It's so funny because normally if we were watching a skating event, Polina would be right here with us," said Jennifer Huang, 13, of Cupertino. "It's so cool to be here watching her do this. We all understand just how special this is."

Over the past few weeks, the Bay Area has been caught up in Polina-mania as the teenager burst first into the national spotlight, and now onto the worldwide stage. Her Olympic performance in Russia far exceeded expectations and set her up to possibly become America's next figure-skating queen.

Not bad for someone who is just a sophomore at Archbishop Mitty High School.

On Thursday, viewing parties were held at several South Bay locations, including Mitty -- at least 400 people watched at the school's Aymar Events Center -- as well as at San Jose's Dance Theatre International school, where Edmunds has taken lessons in ballet and jazz since age 8.

At Sharks Ice, which is Edmunds' home training base, a huge window sign greeted people, reading: "From Sharks Ice to Sochi! Go Polina!" With many schools on break this week, the rinks were bustling as young figure skaters -- nursing their own dreams of future Olympic glory -- practiced under banners congratulating Edmunds.

But when it came time for her to take the ice in Sochi, the rinks emptied out as everyone gathered around televisions.

"It's just so emotional to see this," said Val Capatina, whose 12-year-old daughter, Marina, skates with Edmunds. "To make it to the Olympics is not easy. It takes so much commitment, and those of us who have watched her every day know how hard she has worked for this."

Each time the graceful, smiling Edmunds completed a difficult jump, heads would nod in approval, punctuated with quiet "Yeahs." But when Edmunds made her one serious mistake, briefly falling to the ice, everyone winced and reflexively said: "Oh!"

Forget that error, her friend Sarah Zhang said afterward. Polina was great. In fact, she earned a personal-best score.

"We're so excited for her," said Zhang, 13, of San Jose. "Your heart beats faster every time she jumps. Even though she doesn't look it, she's nervous. But I think I was more nervous for her. It's everyone's dream to skate in the Olympics."

Edmunds is the latest in a long line of accomplished Olympic skaters from the Bay Area, including Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano. Their influence partly explains why the Sharks Ice skating program now has 1,700 kids along with an additional 300 competitive skaters who spend countless hours training at the center.

Now, they have a new inspiration: Edmunds.

Szmauz, a blonde sprite, was allowed to miss a little school to watch her friend.

"How often do you get to see someone you know in the Olympics?" asked her mother, Deborah.

The girl spoke with obvious pride about how she got to skate with Edmunds this past summer in a synchronized team performance.

"Polina would look out for the rest of us like a big sister and encourage us," said Szmauz, wearing a "Team Polina" shirt. "I always knew she was good, but I didn't realize she was this good. So that's why I'm cheering her on."

She had plenty of company throughout the Bay Area.

Follow Mark Emmons at Twitter.com/markedwinemmons.