Anna Shcherbakova: “I don’t like to dream. I’m a realist. I set goals and bring them to life. I don’t like to dream of something that may not come true; this is how I avoid unnecessary expectations.”
Interview with Anna Shcherbakova for Hello magazine. About life outside the ice rink and participation in the show “Ice Age” as a host.
source: hellomagrussia.ru dd. 14th December 2022 by Alexei Zimin
The main question is how do you feel and how is your knee?
Anna Shcherbakova: Not so long ago, I had a surgery. The main problem that bothered me was eliminated. The recovery period is underway. It goes according to plan; I follow all the recommendations of the doctors and gradually return to my usual regimen.
How did you experience the recovery time after the injury? How did you feel?
Anna Shcherbakova: I didn’t have to sit at home and be sad. As soon as I was able to walk without obstacles, I immediately had quite a lot of activities: events, filming, and, of course, physiotherapy exercises, rehabilitation. In general, every day is pretty busy.
What are the three main principles that you adhere to in sports?
Anna Shcherbakova: I would not say that I have some kind of attitude or set of principles in my head. Of course, when you are a professional athlete, you have complete dedication to everything. First of all, on the ice. If you came to a training session or went to a competition, you must work your best, regardless of the circumstances, so as not to regret anything later. I put sports first, and I start from there.
Every time it is very exciting to watch your performances on TV, the thought always slips through: what do you feel there – under the cameras, under the gaze of the judges, under the pressure of the audience…
Anna Shcherbakova: Perhaps, for those who watch broadcasts of even major competitions, it seems that we are still children. But the person you see on the screen, whether he is 15, 17, or 18 years old, got on the ice for the first time at the age of 3. And they began to compete at the age of 5 or 6. Responsibility grows gradually, and over time, it becomes easier to cope with excitement. Competitions such as the World Championships or the Olympics did not come out of the blue. We took small steps forward while learning to overcome our fears. On the ice, we are not young girls and boys, but professionals in our field with a lot of experience and knowledge.
And what qualities do you need to have in order to become a professional figure skater?
Anna Shcherbakova: Of course, this is primarily about diligence and hard work during training. This is the first and most important thing! You must also have, if not talent, then at least abilities for a specific sport. Body structure and coordination are important. But these are natural data that, even in childhood, give an understanding of who is better at what, where it is easier to develop. Yes, and the ability to cope with excitement and self-control are also important. Medals are awarded only at competitions, so it is important to show the best result at the right time.
Do you consider yourself talented?
Anna Shcherbakova: I can say that I have some kind of physical data that is suitable for our sport. It can be height or body structure; it’s not that I’m talented in something specific, but such parameters help.
We can also note your talent for speaking very modestly about yourself. But still, what goal have you set for yourself professionally? There is Olympic gold. What’s next?
Anna Shcherbakova: I never liked to set myself long-term goals or dream about something. I have always been a realist who looked to the near future and set short-term goals: prepare well for the next competition, skate the program clean. Win specific competitions. Everything was easy when I was a kid, too. To be the best among your peers, to master a new jump… I gradually worked my way up to a big goal—the Olympic Games. In general, I set myself a goal and try to achieve it as much as possible.
And what is your goal now? What are your goals for the season?
Anna Shcherbakova: Since now I have a more relaxed mode, while I am recovering from an injury, I just want to discover something new for myself, so I try myself in different areas. For example, now I am participating in the Ice Age project for the first time as a host.
How was the shooting?
Anna Shcherbakova: The first shootings were difficult and exciting for me. I had no idea what was required of me, what was waiting for me. It took some time to adapt, but then I worked on the mistakes and tried to improve, and in some ways I definitely became better.
In the Ice Age, many participants opened up for you from an unexpected side. How has the show affected you personally?
Anna Shcherbakova: Probably I’ve become more open. Being a host is not the same as going on the ice and skating a program. After all, I need to communicate, to initiate a conversation with people I don’t know. This is unusual for me, in my life I never do this. I am a rather closed, not very sociable person. The Ice Age helped me loosen up a bit.
Was there a desire to become a participant yourself, looking, for example, at Evgenia Medvedeva or Elena Ilinykh?
Anna Shcherbakova: I was offered to participate, but now I’m definitely not mentally ready for this. I understood this even before the project because I was used to trusting only myself on the ice. I can’t skate in a pair and trust another person yet. I always look with bated breath at the performances of pairs, even professional ones. When a girl is in a lift at a high altitude above the ice, I want her to be put back as quickly as possible.
We know that before important competitions you had force majeure: either the coronavirus before the Russian Nationals or problems with skates before the Olympic Games. Considering this experience, have you become superstitious? Perhaps you have a talisman.
Anna Shcherbakova: Quite the contrary, the more often I perform, the more I am convinced that everything depends only on me, on my readiness—both mental and physical. I never had any talismans; I did not follow the signs; I did not perform rituals. Everything is in my hands, and I do not need to rely on something else. I will go on the ice, and with my hands and legs, I will do everything I can. It’s easier for me with such a realistic approach. I did it; well done; I didn’t do it; it’s my own fault.
Did someone instill this principle in you, or did the realization come by itself?
Anna Shcherbakova: On my way, many people told me about it, but I came to the realization myself. You just learn from your mistakes and gain experience. I can’t say what dawned on me one day. Everything came with time.
You live in a certain mode, but can you allow yourself to get out of it? And how do you get back to it?
Anna Shcherbakova: In general, any person exists in some mode. Education, activities, and hobbies. My regimen has long been associated with daily workouts from morning to evening. Now one half of my schedule is training, the other half is shooting, events, and new projects.
Do you feel comfortable in the secular part of your life?
Anna Shcherbakova: I’m still getting used to it. The more shooting and secular exits, the better I feel there, but, to be honest, I feel more comfortable on the ice. I’ve been skating since the age of three, and on the set I have spent much less time.
What is your typical day now?
Anna Shcherbakova: Days are not the same for me now. I’m used to everything being scheduled a year in advance: daily workouts at the same time. Warm-up, ice, cool-down, and study. That’s all. And now for me, a person who is used to doing everything according to a schedule, it’s a little unusual. I open the plan for the week. and at different times I have completely different things to do.
Are there times when you can afford to disengage, get away from the sport, competitions, and training, and just relax?
Anna Shcherbakova: After training, I rest on the set, and after shooting, I rest in training. That’s how we live.
Is there a place for spontaneity in athletes’ lives? Or do you like to stick to a schedule when everything is well planned?
Anna Shcherbakova: I like it better when everything is planned in advance. There is some spontaneity, but it is harder for me than a clear schedule. Sometimes I am told that tomorrow I need to be at a certain place at a certain time. The final decision, of course, is up to me because I am not a slave.
Tell us how your parents helped you. How did they support you?
Anna Shcherbakova: My parents have played a huge role in my life. Of course, it’s wonderful when a child develops a variety of interests and pursues their passions, but it’s also important that they have the opportunity to choose. We have three girls in our family, and our parents always adjusted to each one and tried to make sure that we all had time for everything. They rearranged their schedule for us. They got up with us at four in the morning to be in time for training, and then spent the whole day on their feet, often without a second of free time.
You speak English well. To what extent is this the merit of your parents? Are you currently learning any languages?
Anna Shcherbakova: Parents thought first of all about our education, and sports were considered an occupation for general development. But when I got results and they realized that I really loved figure skating, they helped me in every way possible to combine sports with my studies. As a child, in addition to English, I studied German, but then, unfortunately, I no longer had time for both foreign languages.
What is your relationship with friends? Do you see them often?
Anna Shcherbakova: All my friends are from figure skating, so we live on the same schedule. When we have daily training, preparation for competitions, then all our communication takes place between going on the ice. Now that I have the opportunity to spend more time with my friends, we often meet, we can go somewhere together, or spend time at home. After all, we are all skaters; we have a lot in common.
Do you have any global goals and dreams that you are moving towards?
Anna Shcherbakova: I don’t like to think ahead. And I do not like to dream about something. I don’t remember ever dreaming of anything. I am a realist. I set goals and bring them to life. I don’t like to dream of something that may not come true; this is how I avoid unnecessary expectations.
You were on the HELLO! cover five years ago. Then you won your first Russian Nationals; now you are an Olympic champion. What feelings did you have then, and what do you feel now?
Anna Shcherbakova: Then it was my first photo shoot for a magazine. I have warm memories. I was very shy, I didn’t open up completely. Even on the ice, I wasn’t as confident as now. My path in senior figure skating was just beginning. By the way, after that, there was another shooting for “HELLO!” when I won the Worlds. I had three cool looks: gold, silver, and bronze. It turned out beautiful and interesting. And now this shooting after the Olympic Games. Three shootings—three big stages in my sports career. And it’s great that we have a beautiful story together.
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