Anna Shcherbakova: “Competitive adrenaline helped. People may not even imagine what they are capable of in a stressful situation.”
Anna Shcherbakova on what helped her deliver phenomenal performance and win third national title.
source: Tatjana Flade for olympicchannel.com dd. 29th December 2020
Anya, you have done something incredible. What new have you learned about yourself at this competitions?
Anna Shcherbakova: I have already had competitions, where my ability to get ready at the right time was shown. But I have never performed almost without preparation. After the performance, I was overwhelmed with emotions, it seemed to me that I have done something impossible, and I wanted to share my joy with everyone. Now I am much calmer about what happened, this is my life and my work.
Maybe now you think that you don’t need to train so much? Perhaps many will switch to a lighter training regimen now. This is, of course, a joke.
Anna Shcherbakova: I think experience helped me: the more I would train in this mode, the worse the results would be. If you do not skate the entire program, you will have less and less endurance. Of course, it’s surprising to me that with such preparation I was able to skate the free program. It’s cool that it’s turned out, but in the future I need a better preparation.
How did you prepare?
Anna Shcherbakova: During Rostelecom Cup I had a little rest. Then I returned to training, which before the nationals were a in light mode. For several days in a row I skated one workout a day, often I was free early. I didn’t skate the entire program so that there would be no deterioration.
In your opinion, were you able to skate so well in Chelyabinsk because of willpower or psychological stability?
Anna Shcherbakova: I think the attitude played a role. I was determined that I can do all this. At the start, I remembered all the best that I can do, put it all together and skated calmly – there were no nerves before and during the performance.
Usually you start skating the program, and then everything is goes as planned, but here I shouldn’t switch off: I had to control my strength. At some moments, my skating was not at its maximum. I skipped some patterns before the jumps in order to simply get through this program and make all the jumps. Every second I controlled myself so as not to make small mistakes, monitored my condition, and to breathe calmly.
Therefore, there was a maximum concentration during the entire program. I can also say for sure that the competitive adrenaline helped. People may not even imagine what they are capable of in a stressful situation. Hidden opportunities open up, fatigue is felt less.
Did you experience any emotions during this performance?
Anna Shcherbakova: I understood everything that was happening, I tried to avoid emotions. Of course, after performing two quadruple jumps, I was very happy. Probably even after the first one, because in training if I do the first lutz, then in general the program goes well.
If the first lutz does not work out, then rest of the program won’t go well. When you fall and rise, you waste more energy, lose speed and self-confidence. So we can say that the first jump set the tone for the whole program. When I did it, I felt a kind of calmness. The next step was to properly set myself up to the (quad) flip. Of course, when I did it, I was happy. But it was necessary to be calm, because I realized that the second half would be even harder for me than these first quadruples.
Therefore, I tried to remain calm and don’t splash emotions, I skated very concentrated and possibly less emotionally than I usually skate. And in the second half, especially on the step sequence, although I no longer had strengths, I tried to show maximum emotions.
You said earlier that you were offered to withdraw from the competitions. Have you considered the option to skate the program with one or without quadruples?
Anna Shcherbakova: There is such a moment that in this state it is more difficult for me to skate functionally, but I do quadruple jumps. Skating a program with triples is not much easier for me, because the program time and the number of jumps are the same. I didn’t want to remove quadruple jumps and it’s not a fact that this would have saved the program, it wouldn’t be easier for me. Probably, there was not much sense in this. And I really did not admit the thought of withdrawing.
You’ve had a serious illness. Were there any fears that there would be consequences?
Anna Shcherbakova: I was supervised by a lot of doctors: both those who are always with us at the rink and ordinary doctors monitored my condition. I was often forbidden to train at full strength. This made adjustments to the preparation, which we built not to be overload and to show my best at the competitions. This was done to avoid consequences.
Many athletes had such that they had to perform in difficult conditions, even worse than mine. Therefore, I would not like to focus so much on this. Now I will have more rest than usual. We will look at my state: when I fully recover, then we will start training in order to avoid consequences for my health, and also finally work without restrictions.
You already have many achievements. What place does this victory take on the list of your achievements?
Anna Shcherbakova: It’s hard to look at what I have done in a global sense. Today, the day after the free program, I have devastation inside, and there are almost no joyful emotions left. Today I woke up and I can’t say that I was happy, glad, no, zero emotion. I understand what happened, but it’s hard to evaluate everything that happened. I think it will take time to realize what the path I’ve gona and how everything happened. Now it’s over, I’m glad with way it ended, but no more.
Let’s talk about programs. After the test skates, you changed the second part of the free program. Why?
Anna Shcherbakova: In the first version, the music was more tragic, lyrical and not so powerful in the end. I really liked it, I would really like to skate it as it should be. But it turned out that this was the beginning of the season, the program was a little unprepared, and in the end of the program I was very tired and could not convey this music with the necessary strength and energy. This is the kind of music that I had to cover and be more powerful than it. At the beginning of the season, I could not do it properly: the program declined towards the end, I faded, my strength ran out, and the music faded. I think if we continued to skate this version of the program, then perhaps by the end of the season, when I would have had a lot of strength it would have looked better. But we decided to try another option. In the version that I am skating now, the music is increasing, there are big accents towards the end, an increase in rhythm, and this supports me, gives me strength. Music grows and pulls me with it. It looks better, plus the program is already more prepared. Thus, it looks fresher, more interesting. Sometimes during training they accidentally turn on the old part of the program, and I feel that the music is quiet, smooth, and I get more tired in the second half. Today’s music gives strength and I get less tired.
What is the history of your programs?
Anna Shcherbakova: In the short program, I’m skating a story about the loss of a loved one. I have my own story, but I try to make everyone, seeing this program, have their own emotions. I think every person has experienced loss, emotions from loss and can understand this state.
And the free program?
Anna Shcherbakova: For me, this is a story of overcoming. In the end, such victorious music, and when I skated this program, at the end I was overwhelmed with emotions, skated sincerely and from the heart, not inventing anything for myself. I love it.
You perform your exhibition number to the song Everybody wants to rule the world. It’s really about you.
Anna Shcherbakova: This program is symbolic for this competitions. We prepared it for the Grand Prix, made it right before it. Then there were many problems, and there was no time for it. This program is different from my competition programs and I hope I can show this image well.
Now you are a three-time Russian champion and due to the strong competition in the country, this is already a great achievement. However, you seem to be a bit in the shadow of other top skaters in terms of media attention.
Anna Shcherbakova: It does not bother me to compete, and this is the most important thing. I go to every competitions and do my job. And for me this is much more important than what happens in the press.