Anastasiia Gubanova: “I see what kind of competition there is in Russia. I didn’t want to quit sports, but sometimes it was difficult to find motivation”
Interview with former Russian skater who now represent Georgia – Anastasiia Gubanova. About changing the sports citizenship and new career goals.
source: matchtv.ru dd. 28th October 2021, by Marina Tchernysheva-Melnik
A huge changes happened in your career – switching to the Georgian national team. How did it all work out and when did it start?
Anastasiia Gubanova: It all started in the spring of 2020, when we were at home in quarantine. The head of the Georgian Figure Skating Federation, Mariam Giorgobiani, called my coach (Evgeni Rukavitsyn) and suggested that I compete for her country. Evgeni Vladimirovich immediately told me about such an offer, and I agreed. Then we started to solve organizational issues, draw up documents. I received a second citizenship. We decided not to advertise this process – I just keep quite and worked. And before the start of the season, I gladly announced that now I’m represent Georgia.
Did you immediately realize that representing the Georgian flag is a chance to prolong your career at the international level?
Anastasiia Gubanova: Of course, I see what kind of competition there is in Russia. In recent years, it was difficult when my performances were limited to local events. I continued to skate anyway, because I wanted to show myself. I didn’t want to quit sports, but sometimes it was difficult to find motivation.
Did you know the representatives of the Georgian team before?
Anastasiia Gubanova: Sometimes I met them at competitions, I saw the head of the federation, but I didn’t have a chance to speak personally. But just last spring I communicated well with Luka Berulava (skates in pairs with Karina Safina for Georgia) – we often spent time together at the training camp. Also with Alina Urushadze: we met at CSKA when I was training with Elena Buyanova, and continued our friendship after my departure to St. Petersburg.
Why do you think the Georgian federation chose you among the Russian singles?
Anastasiia Gubanova: I think the leaders of the federation looked closely to many at the competitions. They did not name the reason for their decision. But after all I’m not just any athlete: I can charm the audience, glide, and I have a decent technical level. It’s nice that it’s appreciated.
Do I understand correctly that you had a quarantine “squared” last season? That is, not only because of the pandemic, but also because of the traditional quarantine without competitions when changing sports citizenship.
Anastasiia Gubanova: I did not have a formal quarantine as such, because I have not performed at the international level for a long time. Well, and I also did not get to the domestic competitions last season. The fact is that I missed a number of qualifying rounds of the Russian Cup. My mother was sick with coronavirus, and I was in contact with her and according to the rules I also had to remain in isolation.
Life itself constantly put me in such conditions that I could not attend any competitions. And thank God! As I realized that later. After all, if I had been selected and performed at the Russian Nationals, the transfer could have been delayed: I would have had to miss another season. As a result, I do not need to have another quarantine, which is imposed when changing a sports federation. I already missed last season – all requirements are met.
That is, you just trained hard for a whole year …
Anastasiia Gubanova: Yes, and you know, what a huge motivation immediately appeared! I was very comfortable: there is a new turn ahead, goals. The coaches and the atmosphere remained the same, the formalities were solved with my minimal participation. Only once I performed at an event at my academy. For the rest, I calmly prepared for an important stage in my career, worked on new elements.
What do you know from the culture, language and history of the country you now represent?
Anastasiia Gubanova: To be honest, not much. I learned the words of greeting. I am more familiar with the cuisine. I love Georgian shish kebab, I’ll try khachapuri soon. And I also know about the wine for which the country is famous. Little by little I get to know the culture and try to develop.
You started the season at the Finlandia Trophy. What was it like competing and generally skating in public after a long break?
Anastasiia Gubanova: I was really looking forward to it! The day before the competitions I was thinking all the time how I want the competitions to start as soon as possible. The break was huge. These emotions, when you skated, the audience applauded … I have not experienced such happy moments for a long time. Espoo was my first international event since 2018. I missed it.
For the short program, you have chosen the music of Mireille Mathieu. Do you like this singer?
Anastasiia Gubanova: I wanted to skate to something from her repertoire for a long time. On the ice, I show the feeling of love and the accompanying emotions. Not only warmth, but also sadness. After all, love is multifaceted and brings not only happiness.
In the free program, you skate to “Romeo and Juliet” by Abel Korzeniowski – a composition that is symbolic for you, a few years ago you won your main medals skating to it. Perhaps it was no coincidence that you took this music to revive your career?
Anastasiia Gubanova: This composer is very close to me and the work of Shakespeare itself. Therefore, I feel comfortable skating to Romeo and Juliet. True, the program itself is not about the young heroes of the play. According to the plot, I see a dream in which I am happy with my loved one. Everything is fine with us, but then I wake up and realize that this was only a dream. On a subconscious level, I look for my prince from a dream in real life and eventually find him. We came up with this story with the whole team – both me and the coaches and choreographers.
Alena Leonova choreographed both programs for you. How did you like working with her?
Anastasiia Gubanova: Very comfortable, because Alena and I have been in contact for a long time, we are friends. Recently we were teammates, the age difference is small, and we are on the same wavelength. Alena takes part in the training process of our senior group with pleasure: she comes to choreograph the program or to workn on it.
How is your friend Elizaveta Nugumanova doing? She’s also very component skater, she showed herself well last season. But she has not been seen at international competitions for a long time.
Anastasiia Gubanova: There was no talk about Liza’s transfer to another federation. Now she is just working, preparing for Russian competitions.
What are your plans for the current season?
Anastasiia Gubanova: My next performance will be at the Austrian Cup in November. Then there will be some more Challengers and Series B events. It is not yet known about the European and World Championships – closer to the middle of the season it will be clear. I don’t know yet if the Georgian Nationals will take place this year. If yes, and they call me – of course, I will go to participate. It is also a great opportunity to get to know the country.
Georgian girls have one spot for the Olympics. What are the criteria by which the federation will determine the participant?
Anastasiia Gubanova: So far nothing has been announced to us. I only know that the Georgian team is planning to participate in the team event. I would love to perform there with Alina Urushadze.
Without ultra-c elements, it is already difficult for girls today to win medals at major competitions. How the things are going for you with difficult jumps and combinations?
Anastasiia Gubanova: All combinations with a triple loop are consistent. For now, we keep them in practice and plan to show them when I go to serious competitions. Now our team focuses more on the integrity of programs and stable elements. In the offseason, when there is a break between competitions, we will return to work on quadruple toe loop. So I hope to show it next season.
Many experts praise your balletic skills – do you still take lessons from a teacher at the Vaganov Academy?
Anastasiia Gubanova: I worked with her individually for many years, from about the age of six. She gave me a lot in terms of stretching: the baggage that we have gained still helps me.
We stopped training in 2018, when I left for Moscow, and after returning, the contact faded away. But now I have a wonderful choreographer Olga Germanovna Glinka. And I also once did rhythmic gymnastics – also for stretching and self-development. This is all laid down from childhood: when a child is stretched, the still unformed organism has more chances to retain its abilities. I even took part in competitions, took third place at the level of St. Petersburg. And then I made a choice in favor of figure skating.
What are your career goals?
Anastasiia Gubanova: I have been working for so many years and I want to perform on maximum, to please myself. So that people can see the result of my efforts. I plan to skate for a long time. I didn’t think about a specific date – I’ll just perform as long as I want and like it. Moreover, I got a second wind thanks to Georgia.
But your new sports federation is not as influential, there is no behind-the-scenes support. At the Finlandia Trophy, you got, in my opinion, low scores.
Anastasiia Gubanova: I took it calmly. I have not been to international competitions for a long time, the rating has dropped. That is, I fell out of the world’s attention field. Naturally, in such a situation, the judges will never give high marks. Now, in order to reach the top, I just need to perform as often as possible and build a reputation. You can say I relaunched my career.
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