Anna Shcherbakova: “I hardly ate anything at the Olympics. At that moment, I believed that the less I ate, the better I train.”
Anna Shcherbakova on Lyasan Utiasheva’s cooking show talked about Olympics, motivation to continue and weight control.
source: youtube channel “Derzkaya Gotovka” (Bold cooking – ed.)
About studying in school
Anna Shcherbakova: For the most part, teachers were always understanding and accommodating towards me. Well, with a few rare exceptions. Maybe there were times when they would say to me, “If you don’t attend classes, then…”
Who said that?
Anna Shcherbakova: Well, I won’t say. I graduated from school, so everything was fine in the end. Occasionally, there were situations where teachers were stricter, saying there wouldn’t be grades higher than B because I didn’t attend classes. But a grade of B or A was satisfactory for me, so I finished school that way.
You weren’t the “white crow” in school who constantly skipped classes?
Anna Shcherbakova: Of course, I was. In the first three years, I attended all the classes and never skipped. But later, I joined Eteri Georgievna’s group, and there was a more demanding training schedule, which made it impossible to attend all the classes.
Training became the top priority – it’s a professional sport where you need to realize what you’re doing during training; it’s not just a hobby.
Teachers were accommodating; I would rush to school before training, running between floors, to meet teachers, receive and submit assignments.
How did your classmates treat you?
Anna Shcherbakova: I think they treated me well. Unfortunately, in the last few years, I rarely crossed paths with them. But after the Olympics, when I came to school, everyone treated me warmly.
Can you say that you didn’t have a childhood or that it was somehow different?
Anna Shcherbakova: No, I did have a childhood. It was wonderful. On the contrary, figure skating provided me with so many opportunities: I constantly traveled, had a favorite activity, a favorite hobby that I excelled at.
I had friends. We would all go to the countryside after training – me, my sister, and my friends.
So, I believe I had an absolutely wonderful childhood. And my childhood passion grew into a real profession. That’s why I’m very happy with how everything turned out for me.
About difficulties with weight control during the Olympic season
What about diets? Did you watch your diet carefully, or were you naturally blessed and had no weight problems at all?
Anna Shcherbakova: Everything was fine for me before the Olympic season. Whether it’s genetics or being in my childhood years, I had no issues at all, I could eat whatever I wanted.
During the Olympic season, I entered a transitional age, and it became harder to manage my weight. To maintain the optimal weight, I had to go through a lot. I tried every possible and impossible diet.
I managed to endure that year and maintain my weight. But afterward, I wanted to relax, to let myself go, so I started eating normally. Naturally, I gained weight immediately.
By how much?
Anna Shcherbakova: I don’t like to say…
And what was your ideal weight during the Olympics?
Anna Shcherbakova: I never mentioned anywhere how much I weigh. In that season, 42 kg was considered a good weight for me. But I lost even more weight for the Olympics.
Now everything is coming back to normal. I’ve learned to balance: to eat correctly, normally, without starving or gaining weight. I was searching for that balance, and now I’m gradually finding it.
About the Olympics in Beijing.
It turns out that your approach towards the Olympics worked out. That’s why it’s interesting to examine everything under a microscope – teach, show, tell.
Anna Shcherbakova: I feel that I was very well-prepared because it was my third senior season. The responsibility grew gradually. At the beginning, the season is less important, then you prepare for the World Championships, and then the Olympic season.
Everything progressed gradually, and I didn’t experience sudden rises and falls; I was gradually prepared for everything in life. By the time of the Olympic Games, I knew myself completely, my body, how to prepare, adjust, warm-up, what to do to avoid nervousness.
What did you have for breakfast?
Anna Shcherbakova: Oh, I think I hardly ate anything there.
Because of stress?
Anna Shcherbakova: At that moment, I believed that the less I ate, the better I would train.
But where do you get your strength from, Anna?
Anna Shcherbakova: This aspect is only now coming back to normal. I’m starting to understand how to eat and have enough strength without overeating.
What did you listen to on your music player?
Anna Shcherbakova: Everything was so calm throughout the day, and I listened to life-affirming music. I like to listen to Imagine Dragons before competitions – I feel they have such empowering and motivating songs.
The whole day went smoothly, according to the schedule, everything as it should be.
Training at full force?
Anna Shcherbakova: My training is always worse than my performance. In the morning, I’m still catching myself, but during competitions, I give it my all. All the effort goes into the performance, so the morning training is more of a warm-up.
Nothing stood out, except for the fact that I was late for the bus for the free skate…
Wait, how did that happen?
Anna Shcherbakova: I’m very focused on the ice, but in life, I’m often absent-minded, constantly forgetting things, losing track of time, and being late. I was late because I had forgotten something, then I had to go back and search for it.
I misread the bus schedule, arrived a little late, and had to wait for the next bus. Usually, I arrive just in time for warm-up. But on the next bus, I arrived about 15 minutes later. I arrived about 40 minutes before going out onto the ice, whereas I usually arrive an hour early.
The warm-up in the arena was cut in half. But I pretended that it was supposed to be that way – I rushed in with a confident look, and the coaches were already sitting there.
They didn’t say anything because I confidently acted as if it was supposed to happen that way. But I was a bit nervous inside.
About motivation to continue her career and sporting enthusiasm
What other goals do you have? You’ve already achieved so much.
Anna Shcherbakova: This year was a bit of a search, a bit of not understanding. Firstly, there is a general sense of not understanding. Secondly, when you achieve the biggest goal in sports, there comes a moment when you almost don’t understand: what’s next, what to do?
Do you feel that it all happened so quickly that you didn’t have time to realize your greatness in figure skating?
Anna Shcherbakova: No, I feel that everything happened in due time; I gradually approached it. There was no sudden rise; everything progressed step by step.
There was a year of not understanding, and I also had surgery for an old injury – knee surgery. This injury is related to a fracture I had when I was 12 years old. On one hand, the injury simplified things for me and gave me time to understand what to do.
Perhaps this year there was no choice – in any case, I needed to undergo treatment. It was a year of respite from professional sports, and it was necessary.
Did you miss it?
Anna Shcherbakova: Honestly, very much. I come to training, and inside me there is still an athlete who wants more and more. I have motivation and a desire to do something more in training.
It’s difficult to say what will happen next. But I can say that I still have the sporting enthusiasm. I’m gradually getting back in shape, I’ve restored all my triple jumps and combinations, there is progress.
In figure skating, girls often retire early – why is that?
Anna Shcherbakova: It’s a sport where the peak of opportunities comes at around 15-17 years old. If you have achieved everything possible at that age, I don’t see anything wrong with retiring.
You’re 18 years old, you’ve achieved a lot, your whole life is ahead of you, all doors are open. You can do whatever you want. If you want to continue skating, go for it; if you want to pursue something else, go ahead. It’s a person’s choice.
I don’t see anything wrong with the opportunity to achieve everything in sports and then live a full life.
Am I correct in understanding that you, as an athlete, haven’t finished yet? It’s still an ellipsis?
Anna Shcherbakova: Yes, for now, let’s put an ellipsis. If I compete, no one will miss it, so we’ll see.
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