Anna Shcherbakova: “Figure skating is an individual sport that, in a sense, teaches you to be a little selfish and think in your own interests”
Interview with Anna Shcherbakova. About not getting to the Olympic team event, relationship in the group, studying, shows and NFT tokens.
About not getting to the Olympic team event
Anna Shcherbakova: I can’t say that I took it calmly, I took it emotionally [not getting into the team]. The subsequent training days were difficult, training saved me.” I used that energy to prepare.
About the relationships between the skaters in the Eteri Tutberidze group
Anna Shcherbakova: In the group we have developed the most correct relations. This does not mean that we are best friends, but outside of training we communicate, talk about any topic that may not be related to figure skating. But we can also communicate about training, suggest something to each other.
There are no conflicts in training – everyone has their own goals. It is a very correct phrase that figure skating is an individual sport that, in a sense, teaches you to be a little selfish and think in your own interests. But coaches teach that it should be with respect to the opponent. We always monitor the situation on the ice, for example, you can’t cut someone off.
Studying for the Olympic champion in women’s single skating Anna Shcherbakova has been in the first place for a long time. That’s what she told the reporters at VK Fest.
Anna Shcherbakova: I would like to say, first of all, thank you to my parents, because from childhood they taught me that going for sports is my decision, but study has always been in the first place. They always told me: “If you can’t cope then study more, quit sports.” They said it when I was younger, then, of course, when they realized that I was serious, they just taught me how to combine it right. Even if you return tired after training, you still need to study, do all the tasks.
I can say that it was the hardest in the Olympic season, all my thoughts were only about the Olympics, and my parents understood the importance. When there were competitions, I was completely focused on them. When competitions finished I studied, prepared. I am very glad that I managed to pass everything well: at first I was delighted, but then self-digging began – why I made a mistake here or there, but I am very pleased with my preparation.
About skating in shows
Anna Shcherbakova: I skate part of the Olympic free program in the first half of the show. So we decided together with Ilia Averbukh that for fans of figure skating, who have been following the competitions all year, cheering for our athletes at the Beijing Olympics, there would be an opportunity to watch this program live, the most important thing – plunge into those emotions, that atmosphere. At the show, this program has changed a little, has become more theatrical, with each skate I try to add more color to it, to interact with the audience.
Show and sport are completely different things. Of course, at competitions there is maximum concentration, very strong excitement, but here you try to give maximum pleasure to the audience. But, like, probably, any athlete, I always want to do my job on maximum, but at the same time it probably gives me more freedom – I try to make the audience enjoy my skating anf enjoy it myself.
The equator of the tour is almost over. What are your impressions?
Anna Shcherbakova: I really like it! There are, of course, similarities with how I performed earlier on the show, but there are also many new things. A schedule with such frequent performances is unusual for me.
On the tour of Eteri’s Tutberidze coaching staff everything is completely different, right?
Anna Shcherbakova: Yes, performances there are less frequent – between them there is time to exhale, set yourself up to new performances. The same goes for the shows themselves. You tune in for one skate for a long time, perform and get off the ice. There is a little time to rest, tune in to a new skate, warm up, and then go out and skate again. Everything is scheduled: warm up, perform, finish. And then – the final exit and the end.
Here we have a more dynamic format. I participate in the opening – after it there is the only opportunity to take off the skates before of the Master and Margarita performance. I warm up in the hall – I reherse the program. Then I go out on the ice and skate it. Further, during the break, I quickly change costumes for the opening, then for the “female” number, and after that – for my final performance. There is very little time before it: about one performance before mine. Therefore, I just turn on the music for the program (to the verses of Bulat Okudzhava – ed. note), go through it at least a little for myself and run out onto the ice – I don’t even have time to warm up. For everyone who performs here, this is usual. I’m getting used to it – I like it (smiles).
Can you reveal the secret: how not to get tired of skating the same thing day after day for several weeks?
Anna Shcherbakova: This is the secret I always ask those who perform here. They say: “Well, haven’t you skated in a show before?” And I’m like, “We had a tour, we had six shows!” (The tour of Eteri Tutberidze “Champions on Ice” – ed.). For them, not only six, for them twenty-two shows are usual thing! “So we skated Anna Karenina fifty-eight times in a row, and in total – two hundred times a year. And besides that, there are other shows. When people have hundreds of performances and I don’t even have a dozen yet, it’s hard to compare (laughs).
We follow your countdown of finished shows on social networks – the eighth day of twenty-two, the ninth …
Anna Shcherbakova: For me, every show is an event! I want it to stay that way. I am aware that even if I perform every day, for the people who come, every show must be special. Therefore, every time, no matter how tired I am in the morning and no matter how it seems to me that after yesterday’s show I want to relax, I try to skate with new emotions, with new strength and new sincerity. I want to keep it like that. I want to carry it to the end of the tour and beyond.
And besides such motivation and time management, do you think you learned something new during the tour? Maybe new skills?
Anna Shcherbakova: I would not call it something radically new, but with each show I learn to work with the audience, to feel the difference between competitions and shows. When I skate my programs now, I always look for a free “piece” where I do not interact with the viewer. These are the moments that I need at the competitions in order to set myself up to the execution of the element or take a break before doing some kind of complex transition. Here, on the show, these moments go to the audience. I try to make all movements more theatrical, more colorful. I think they even transform!
Do you think this experience will help you in future seasons, in your career?
Anna Shcherbakova: I think yes. First, I’m getting used to performing in public. It just seems like we perform a lot for the audience, but usually it’s only a few times a month at the end of the season. And when you skate shows every day, there are more opportunities to get new experiences. I take something from every performance. Secondly, in the future I will be able to open up on the ice more thanks to this experience.
You have already revealed yourself in a completely new way in a joint “female” number with other skaters to the song of Fergie – “Be Italian”. We have never seen such Anya Shcherbakova! How did you manage to get used to the image of a fatal and daring Italian?
Anna Shcherbakova: Yes, this is a completely new image! I’ve never had a program like this before. It’s probably good that I have such a number on this show, because if I had been put on a similar program individually, I might not have coped with it. And here I have the opportunity to try a new theme in the team. After all, this is the development of the acting component of skating – when any artistic image can be conveyed.
The first performances were not very comfortable for me, but then I gradually tried to join. At first, I looked at others. Now, every time I try to make it look more organic. It will be great if at the last show I feel as comfortable as possible even in such an extraordinary style for me. I already feel like I’m coping better.
You have mentioned teamwork. What is it like for you to skate with athletes, most of whom are older than you?
Anna Shcherbakova: The team is very friendly and nice. Everyone is very supportive of me. There are those with whom I already communicate well, the company in which I feel comfortable, and those whom I followed when I was little. Maybe I was just born when they won all their major medals. For me, they are the stars of figure skating. And it’s great that they support me, suggest something to me, share their experience.
Imagine that in 10 years you yourself decide to create your own ice show. What would it be about?
Anna Shcherbakova: It certainly sounds very interesting. I have 10 more years to think!
About her collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
How did you get into this field, how did this whole story begin?
Anna Shcherbakova: The story is not very long. Yes, it’s really something new, something unusual. I was offered this idea, I thought: why not. Why not try to do something new, your own, original.
My task was simple. At the moment, the first collection was launched, it is most connected with my sports career – there are my major events, victories, performances that are significant for me. My task was to tell my emotions about these victories, performances.
The first collection is just to understand what it is, to try it. Let’s see, maybe we’ll try to develop further in this area.
Can you explain to the representatives of the older generation in a nutshell what it is?
Anna Shcherbakova: I also asked the question when I was offered to do it, ha ha. It is better to turn to professionals to explain. I cannot say that I am a professional in this field. I try something new, as they explained to me, this is the future.
We have autograph sessions, the point is to get something original from an athlete, something made for you personally. It’s probably the same thing, but only in digital form. Something that only you will have.
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