Anastasia Gubanova: “After the surgery, I almost had to learn how to walk again. But I wasn’t going to give up and was ready for anything to enter the season in a normal state.”
Interview with Georgian single skater Anastasia Gubanova.
source: sports.ru dd. 26th November 2022 by Maiia Bagryantseva
Until last year, Gubanova represented Russia, but without big achievements. The Georgian federation made an offer, the codivid pause worked in their favor, and the transfer was agreed upon. In the fall of 2021, she had her first competitions under the new flag. Then at the Finlandia Trophy, Gubanova remained fifth; Russian girls took the entire podium. However, in the absence of Russian skaters this season, Gubanova is regarded as the European Championships’ favorite.
Representing the Georgian national team, Anastasia went to the Olympics (11th place) and became 6th at the World Championships, having won two spots for the country. The transfer turned out to be mutually beneficial. Georgia got a top athlete, and Anastasia got an important (especially now) opportunity to compete at the main competitions.
At the same time, Gubanova still lives and trains in Russia, in the group of Evgeni Rukavitsin, next to Dmitry Aliev, Makar Ignatov, and others.
In early autumn, there was talk that your participation in the Grand Prix series was under threat because of a leg injury. How are you feeling?
Anastasia Gubanova: All last season an ankle injury bothered me, I skated on painkillers, and it’s a miracle that I managed to perform at such important competitions.
In the spring, we did programs for the new season, and after that, I took care of my health. I was admitted to a hospital in St. Petersburg and underwent surgery, but it did not help, and my leg problem persisted. I had to undergo an additional course of injections, and the injury subsided. But I can’t say that it has completely disappeared; it still bothers me, and this, of course, is a little unnerving.
Has it something to do with the boots?
Anastasia Gubanova: No, this is a very old story, I have been suffering with it for five years. It’s most likely due to the loads. At first, it didn’t hurt much, and I didn’t pay much attention. But then, apparently, there was a cumulative effect, and I had to go to the doctor.
Was it scary to fall out of the work process? You finished sixth at the World Championships, and your career is on the rise.
Anastasia Gubanova: Very scary. After the surgery, I almost had to learn how to walk again. And I went on the ice for the first time only at the summer training camp.
That is, imagine: everyone is already actively preparing for the season, and for me even standing on the ice is painful. The main thing at the training camp is to get in good physical shape, and I just skated, didn’t jump at all, and, to be honest, the darkest thoughts came into my head. It is clear that I was not going to give up and was ready for anything to enter the season in a normal state.
Last season was very successful for you, what is it like to get to the main competitions in life?
Anastasia Gubanova: Yes, last season was incredible, so much happened. Of course, the most emotions from the Olympics. Yes, it was very difficult because of the injury, but I also got a unique experience. It is true what they say: the Olympic Games are like nothing else.
Usually at competitions you feel nervousness, competition. And in Beijing, I suddenly felt that we were all one big friendly family. The atmosphere was very warm, it was a pleasure to perform there. The most surprising thing is that I was not worried at all, although it was such a responsible event.
What do you feel when the Georgian flag is raised in your honor? Do you already feel belonging to Georgia?
Anastasia Gubanova: Well, firstly, I finally went there and saw everything with my own eyes. I walked around Tbilisi – what a beautiful city! – ate delicious Georgian food. The country is incredible, with such beautiful architecture, and Tbilisi does not look like any other city; I have not seen anything like it.
I have already gotten used to the uniform, it’s really mine – both the flag and the jacket. I feel only pride and joy that I represent this country. The first big skating rink was recently opened in Tbilisi, and if the federation says I will go there as soon as such an opportinity appears. To spend a training camp o to hold a master class there.
At the competitions in Finland, you and Morisi Kvitelashvili put each other on the ice and sat very nicely together in the kiss&cry. How did it happen?
Anastasia Gubanova: We both came there without coaches. We sat down, talked, and decided that it was a good idea to help each other. It turned out to be a very interesting experience for me, by the way. I’ve never been behind the board at such competitions. It turned out that it was quite difficult morally, and you are very nervous. But it’s interesting and unusual.
But when Morisi put me on the ice, it was great. You feel supported, and it’s become calmer. It is important to see a close person behind the board.
This season turned out to be difficult for the Georgian national team. One by one, your colleagues from the national team leave the usual Russian skating rinks for Europe. Do you feel like you’re next?
Anastasia Gubanova: I really hope that I will be able to stay at home, in St. Petersburg. Both parents and coaches are there. I don’t want to leave. Everything is set up—both the workflow and the costumes I’ve been sewing in the same place for many years. But it is clear that should the circumstance arise, then we will have to think of something.
The first time these conversations started in earnest was in October, we even thought about staying in Europe after that event in Finland. Our pair skaters – Nastya Metelkina and Daniil Parkman – did so, and I was able to return home.
Just in theory, what school are you considering? To Morisi in Enya, or perhaps to Germany?
Anastasia Gubanova: No, we haven’t thought about it yet. Well, even if this happens, I will still stay in touch with Evgeni Rukavitsin, he is my coach.
With all the current circumstances, it is quite difficult to travel from St. Petersburg to international competitions.
Anastasia Gubanova: Yes, it’s a puzzle every time, still it’s easier at home. No difficult route to the competitions will outweigh this. I’d rather spend a day getting to competitions than leave St. Petersburg.
It is important for me to train and live at home, I am a very homely person. And I love the city very much, you can say that I am a real St. Petersburg patriot. Yes, the experience of living abroad can be interesting, but honestly, if I can avoid it, I will be happy.
And when did you move to Petersburg?
Anastasia Gubanova: I was born in Tolyatti. As a child, I was sick a lot, I had a severe allergy, and the doctors advised my parents to engage me in sports. The choice was between skiing and figure skating. Well, we decided that a more feminine sport is better for a girl. At first, I skated in the health group because I came only for physical activity. And then there were some results, and the coaches in Togliatti said that we had to move on, look for a stronger group.
So I ended up in St. Petersburg at the age of 4.5. My parents had to leave everything, change their whole lives and move with me. Mom believes in me and supports me. By and large, the fact that I grew up as a professional athlete is her merit.
In St. Petersburg, I started training at the Academy of Figure Skating and almost immediately got into the group of Angelina Turenko. I have skated in her group for 10 years. But in parallel, from the age of five, I always went to additional classes with teachers from the Vaganovsky School, so my choreographic training is from there.
Angelina Turenko is now coaching in Enya at Lorenzo Magri’s Academy. Have you discussed with her the question of a potential transfer?
Anastasia Gubanova: No, it hasn’t come to that yet. We are on good terms with her, and when we see each other at competitions, we communicate. But there was no concrete talk about my future. Here is such a thing: if a decision is made about my departure, I will go where they say; it does not depend on me much.
Masha Talalaikina has just returned to St. Petersburg from Italy. How is she doing?
Anastasia Gubanova: Yes, she returned to our rink; we train with her on the same ice; we communicate. Masha is still getting in shape, she is doing a lot of work and she is very glad that she returned home.
Last year made your international debut, and this year you are already a medal contender at big competitions. One of the favorites to win a medal at the Europeans. Is it difficult?
Anastasia Gubanova: Of course, it is felt. But I can’t say that it puts pressure on me. On the contrary, it inspires. Although I try not to think about it. I need not to think about it and skate clean. With good skating, there will be a result. The main thing is just to do what I can.
Now you are skating in the strongest warm-up. Is there an understanding that you need to complicate the content?
Anastasia Gubanova: Of course, I can see what’s going on around me. It is necessary to complicate the programs, although the coach and I have not discussed this yet. But I don’t think that Evgeni Vladimirovich will be against my suggestion of complicating the content, haha. So far, the task is to skate clean and show emotions. It is important for me not just to skate beautifully but to live the story on the ice, so I often have such small screenplays in my programs.
In figure skating, a lot of attention has recently been paid to the issue of a healthy relationship with food and weight. Has this problem affected you in any way?
Anastasia Gubanova: Yes, in the transitional age, I suffered a lot because of it. At the age of 14, puberty covered me; problems with weight began, and it seemed that I was gaining weight even from water. Well, it happens to everyone, I think. For three years I struggled and suffered – no matter what diets I tried, nothing helped.
That is, I understood that I had to wait, that everything would get better with time, and I just had to be patient. But when you skate in competitions with such high competition as I had then, it is very hard not to despair. And indeed, time passed and everything returned to normal. And I haven’t restricted myself in any way for the past year and a half; I eat whatever I want. And the weight doesn’t change.
Do you follow the Russian Grand Prix?
Anastasia Gubanova: Yes, if I have time, I watch it, it’s interesting. I follow the performances of the guys from our group. The boys are just great, I root for them. We have a great, friendly atmosphere at the rink; everyone communicates well, sometimes we go somewhere together. This is my home, and I feel very good there.
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