KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Kristi Yamaguchi enjoyed her first trip to the halfpipe this week to watch Shaun White and the rest of the gravity-defying snowboarders at the Sochi Games.

The Olympic figure skating champion from Fremont is working with the TeamUSA.org doing video. She was treated as just another journalist in the media mixed zone by Sochi volunteers who had no idea about her Olympic pedigree.

But Yamaguchi doesn't mind the anonymity despite winning the gold medal in the 1992 Albertville Games.

Twenty four years later, the Bay Area has another skater in the women's skating competition -- and Yamaguchi has been predicting it for a while.

The former champion has been a big supporter of Polina Edmunds of San Jose, the 15-year-old who surprised the skating world by qualifying for the Sochi Games.

"Polina for 15 has an incredible balletic quality on the ice," Yamaguchi said. "She has a lot of confidence you don't see in a 15 year old. The lightness and ease she has on the ice is beyond her years."

Edmunds, an Archbishop Mitty High sophomore, is scheduled to compete next week in one of the Winter Olympics' marquee events. Yamaguchi's coach, Christy Ness, has consulted with Edmunds, which is no surprise in the tightknit Bay Area skating community.

Yamaguchi is joined in Sochi by her husband, former NHL player Bret Hedican, who is doing radio commentary on hockey. The Alamo couple first met in Albertville during Opening Ceremony.


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The former skater feels part of the Olympics even when she can't attend the games. But she is enjoying the U.S. Olympic Committee platform that allows her to introduce people to the athletes and events.

"As an athlete you always feel connected to it," she said.

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.