Polina Edmunds was born on May 18, 1998 in Santa Clara, California. Her mother, Nina, is a figure skating coach and former figure skater originally from Tver, Russia, who learned how to coach under Alexei Mishin. Her father, John Edmunds, is CFO of a computer software company. She has two brothers—James, who is two years older, and Daniel, four years younger—both of whom play hockey. Olympic ice dance champions, Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, are the godparents of her brother, Daniel. She was a student at Archbishop Mitty High School and graduated in May 2016. She began studying communications at Santa Clara University in September 2016. She is a member of Santa Clara's chapter of Delta Gamma.
Edmunds began taking ballet and jazz lessons at Dance Theatre International in Evergreen, San Jose when she was eight.
Edmunds first stepped onto the ice at twenty months old and was taking lessons in both skating and ballet by age four. She cites Carolina Kostner, Sasha Cohen, and Michelle Kwan as her figure skating role models. She trains at the Sharks Ice Rink in San Jose with longtime coaches David Glynn and Nina Edmunds, her mother, who have both coached her since she was four.
Edmunds placed seventh on the junior level at the 2011 U.S. Championships and then sixth in 2012. In the 2012–2013 season, she won the U.S. national junior title at the 2013 U.S. Championships. Having received no ISU Junior Grand Prix assignments, Edmunds' only remaining opportunity to get on the ISU's Season's Best or World Standing lists—and thus, have a chance of a senior Grand Prix assignment in the following season—was the 2013 World Junior Championships. U.S. Figure Skating decided not to give her one of the three ladies' spots to World Juniors and instead sent her to the 2013 Gardena Spring Trophy, where she won the junior gold medal. It did not count for either list.
In mid-2013, Edmunds began receiving coaching from Frank Carroll in addition to David Glynn and Nina Edmunds. She received her first ISU Junior Grand Prix (JGP) assignments in the 2013–14 season; she placed first in both segments on her way to the gold medal in Mexico City, her debut. Edmunds received another gold medal at the JGP in Belarus, after placing second in the short and first in the free. At the Junior Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka, Japan, she had trouble in the short program, placing fifth, but was second in the free skate and finished fourth overall.
Edmunds competed on the senior level for the first time at the 2014 U.S. Championships. She won the silver medal behind Gracie Gold after placing second in both segments of the competition. On January 12, Edmunds was named to the U.S. team for the Olympics and Worlds. Making her senior international debut, she finished ninth with a total score of 183.25 at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia after placing seventh in the short program and ninth in the free skate. A month later, Edmunds competed at the 2014 World Championships in Saitama, Japan. She placed twelfth in the short program but moved up after placing fifth in the free skate, finishing eighth overall with a score of 187.50.
Edmunds began her season with gold at the 2014 U.S. International Classic, an ISU Challenger Series event. She was assigned to two Grand Prix events, the 2014 Cup of China and 2014 NHK Trophy. At her senior Grand Prix debut, Edmunds finished fourth in China and eighth in Japan.
At the 2015 U.S. Championships, Edmunds placed third in the short program but fourth in the free skate, finishing fourth overall. She won the pewter medal behind bronze medalist Karen Chen. However, Chen was not age eligible to go to the World Championships, so Edmunds was named to both Four Continents and World teams.
Edmunds won gold at the 2015 Four Continents after placing fourth in the short program and first in the free skate.
At the 2015 World Championships, Edmunds placed seventh in both segments of the competition, finishing eighth overall.
Edmunds was assigned to compete at the 2015 Skate Canada International and 2015 Rostelecom Cup. She finished sixth in Canada and fourth in Russia. She won the silver medal behind Gracie Gold at the 2016 U.S. Championships, after placing first in the short program and second in the free. She withdrew from the 2016 Four Continents Championships because she lacked time to break in new skates. The old pair of skates, which she had worn for two years, were too soft to be used.
In February 2016, an MRI showed that Edmunds had a bone bruise on the navicular bone in her right foot, an injury which arose after she "started jumping too early in the new skates". As a result, she withdrew from the 2016 World Championships in Boston. After a break, she resumed skating but the problem resurfaced in June; she decided to limit herself to off-ice training for a month and then returned to the ice.
Edmunds resumed skating in August 2016 but paused her training in November after the bone bruise returned; she was concerned about the possibility of a career-ending fracture in the navicular bone. She withdrew from her two Grand Prix competitions, the 2016 Rostelecom Cup and 2016 NHK Trophy. In January 2017, she withdrew from the U.S. Championships.
Edmunds returned to the ice in March 2017.
GP: Grand Prix; CS: Challenger Series; JGP: Junior Grand Prix
Small medals for short and free programs awarded only at ISU Championships. Pewter medals for fourth-place finishes awarded only at U.S. national and regional events.