Anna Shcherbakova: “I try not to say too much. It would be better if they didn’t talk about me, rather than my words caused some kind of negative resonance. I don’t speak on any controversial topics.”
Interview with Olympic Champion Anna Shcherbakova. Anna talked about the end of the season, about what she considers the main thing in her Olympic victory, emotions she left in Beijing and also shared some nearest plans.
source: MFK Magazine 29/2022 by Oksana Tonkacheeva
Anya, the season is over, now you can relax. What emotions are you experiencing right now?
Anna Shcherbakova: Finally, after the end of the Channel One Cup, I felt absolute relief and happiness. I realized that I have no reason to be upset. Such an event helped to finish the season beautifully. I coped with all the elements, the team won, there was a full arena, and the fans were very supportive. So only positive emotions and impressions from all sides.
Knowing your maximalism, how important was it for you to finish the season by skating the programs flawlessly?
Anna Shcherbakova: I had successful performances at the Olympics, so I didn’t get dwell on these skates, it’s more like a charge of positive energy. But I’m glad it all worked out. It was also very nice to see the support of the audience again.
You have a whole month of shows ahead. When you go on the ice in a show, do you set some tasks for yourself, do you worry about your performance? Or are you just skating for fun?
Anna Shcherbakova: Only for fun and with pleasure when you skate at the end of the season. I’ll clarify: it’s one thing to skate in a show at the beginning of the season or in the middle, when you once again check some elements that you will then perform at competitions. And at the end of the season – this is an opportunity to perform for pleasure, without nerves, and give this pleasure to the audience. And, probably, just as we give this pleasure to the skating fans, we get this energy in return.
In the summer, you said that if you had the opportunity to choose where to go, you would prefer Japan, the “Dreams on Ice” show. Many skaters are enthusiastic about Japanese shows. What is so special about them?
Anna Shcherbakova: I went to Japan for the show when I was still very young, I had not even started performing at junior competitions. At that moment, it seemed to me that no one knew me as an athlete, but the Japanese audience prepared me gifts related to me personally, and I was even recognized on the street. That is, for them I was not just a girl that they saw for the first time, but they really prepared and knew
about me. Being a young athlete who had not yet won anything, I still felt the incredible love of the audience. These are impressions for the whole life.
Gala programs are a special kind of art. Are there any favorites among them?
Anna Shcherbakova: I don’t have such a rich experience of gala programs yet. Last year, for example, everyone was already doing shows, and I had the World Team Trophy in Japan. But now I really like the “Angel” to “Ave Maria”, which we did this season. I think it really suits me.
I have already said that I would not associate the image on ice with a person in life. I just like to reveal this theme on the ice. I like music very much. When I skate it, I do all the movements from my heart and feel the music.
On the ice, you have an image of a lyrical heroine. But this season in the free program you so skillfully transform from the image of the tender and fragile Margarita in the first part of the program into the daring Margarita from the “Satan’s ball” …
Anna Shcherbakova: My favorite part (smiles).
… – that you think: lyrical style is far from all that you are capable of.
Anna Shcherbakova: Of course, you always want to show yourself from new sides. And I had completely different programs. “Fire Bird” was very bright and fast, and very non-lyrical. And if you recall all my children’s programs, then there were a lot of different images.
In “Margarita” I like the transition between the musical parts, because it’s like a performance inside the program. I always do it not like a robot, but always very sincerely. And by the way, the second part to the music from “Satan’s ball” is brighter and it seems to give me strength at the end of the program.
Before you start working on new program, do you look for some additional information about the image that you will show on the ice, or is it enough for you what Daniel Gleikhengauz tells?
Anna Shcherbakova: Daniil Markovich tells me the story of my program, as he sees it. And then I read something on the topic or watch a movie. The image in the program is always very important for me. I read “The Master and Margarita” already knowing about my program, therefore, I paid special attention to the Margarita’s character. I really liked it, I understood very well what emotions needed to be conveyed, there was an inner understanding of the character, so I think it turned out
very accurate hit.
I look: the Khrustalny hall, where we are talking now, is full of flowers and balloons …
Anna Shcherbakova: Yes, it was my fans who congratulated me on my birthday.
How did you celebrate it, by the way?
Anna Shcherbakova: On the way from Saransk to Moscow, in a train. Well, in the evening we celebrated with the family.
18 years old – a serious milestone, did the life divided into “before” and “after”?
Anna Shcherbakova: No, absolutely. I’m used that these days I always have some competitions, so you think how to perform, not about what comes after. And then everything starts so suddenly. Last year I had World Championships and I forgot about everything else. Now the Channel One Cup, so my birthday always takes me by surprise. But it passed very
Many foreign skaters also congratulated me, participants of the World Championships, which just ended in Montpellier, Olympic champions. It was very nice.
Interestingly, what feelings did you experience when a celebration was held in your school No. 109 in honor of the victory at the Olympic Games?
Anna Shcherbakova: I was pleasantly surprised that the school not only follows my career, but is generally interested in figure skating. It’s one thing when you’re here all the time chatting with the guys at the rink. We are all in our circle, figure skating unites us.
And for a long time at school, my teachers and classmates didn’t really know what I was doing. And when I came there, there was a feeling that this is a completely different world, where there is no place for my favorite sport. It was hard to understand that these worlds could be connected, that children at school are also fans of figure skating, and they are not just fans of it, but they are also well versed in it.
I was surprised that the questions they asked me were not usual, abstract questions, but professional ones, precisely from the sports point of view. Many asked questions like in this interview. It was clear that the guys did not just come to look at me, but they follow figure skating, watch competitions, they know many athletes.
You have a pretty strong school. Have you ever had a desire to switch to a school where everything is adjusted to sports, to make the studying process easier?
Anna Shcherbakova: Well, the teachers here are also very helpful to me. The first two or three grades I went to all the classes, then it turned out to be in time for the first two or three. The teachers know my schedule…
How do you prepare for the state exam?
Anna Shcherbakova: I study on my own and with tutors. I will take exams on Russian, mathematics and biology.
And you have already announced that you will enter the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth, and Tourism, the coaching department …
Anna Shcherbakova: It’s not that it was my dream or goal, but it’s interesting to me. And, of course, while I want to continue my career in sports, it is very difficult to combine this with studies at another university. So far, I don’t have that option. I’m not ready to finish with figure skating yet. Secondly, I still do not know what interests me in life, except for sports. I hope that now I will have more time to look around, and I will understand what else I would like to do. But so far I just didn’t even have a choice between a coach and someone else.
But in principle, do you consider a coaching career?
Anna Shcherbakova: Yes.
Going back a little. After the Channel One Cup everyone in the media started to discuss your possible retirement. But when you answered reporters, you probably meant something completely different?
Anna Shcherbakova: I said that first I need to rest and recover, but I want to continue, however, there are circumstances that do not depend on me. And they can affect my future plans, I think, like any athlete’s. I believe that I said everything as it is, and most understood what I was talking about. But it was very interesting to read what people think about this situation.
After the Olympics, I didn’t even have a thought whether to finish or not – only to continue! And before the World Championships, I felt an incredible amount of energy in myself …
And then… Sometimes it was hard to prepare for the Channel One Cup, sometimes it was hard to force myself mentally.
What did you feel at that moment?
Anna Shcherbakova: There was some not understanding of what was happening. Athletes will understand me – the World Championships is one of the most important competitions. If you do not take the Olympic year, then this is the most important competitions of the season and it is very difficult to give it up. But I’m glad that in the end I set myself up for training and performances.
But still: what would you say to those who believe that it is necessary to leave at the peak?
Anna Shcherbakova: This is a very controversial question. It seems to me that the word “necessary” shouldn’t be used here at all. People skate as long as they have a desire, motivation. If at a young age you understand that it’s enough to torture yourself, then this is your life, and you have the right to look for something else, more interesting. If you feel that you are in the right place, you decide how long it will last – 5, 20 years or more. Both options has its own advantages. I personally wouldn’t associate it with any titles.
What has changed for you since the Olympics? Do you have an understanding that you have done something significant?
Anna Shcherbakova: Honestly? Not much has changed. Unless the realization came that at the most necessary moment I did it – I showed my best skating, and I am proud of that.
Have you already got used to the attention?
Anna Shcherbakova: I have been competing in seniors for three seasons, there were other major competitions. Therefore, I have become accustomed to some kind of attention. Perhaps there’s more of it now, but it is, of course, very nice.
When success comes, also a lot of new responsibilities come: shootings, interviews … Probably you’re tired of answering the same questions several times?
Anna Shcherbakova: I have already had so many interviews that, sometimes, it seems to me that I have already told everything I can about myself (Laughs). At first, I was shy to give interviews – I was 13 years old, maybe less, plus all people are different … Well, that’s how it affected me. Until now, I have this: I try not to say too much. It would be better for me if they didn’t talk about me, rather than my words caused some kind of negative resonance. I do not speak on any controversial topics that can be interpreted differently. I always answer sincerely, but I do not like provocative questions and I have the right to avoid them. I just don’t like negativity and take a lot close to heart. What I say is usually about my sports career, performances or my life, but nothing where it’s possible to find a second meaning.
Do shooting for glossy magazines inspire you?
Anna Shcherbakova: It’s always a new experience. There are some very interesting projects. For example, for the Hello magazine, I was shot in three images: gold, silver and bronze. There are very beautiful photos and an unusual idea, I liked it. The outfits, the make-up, the image – everything was very beautiful.
Let’s get back to the main point. What was the most difficult for you in this difficult season?
Anna Shcherbakova: I would not say that the season was special. There could be daily routine difficulties, but who doesn’t have them. During the season, I gradually got in shape and tried not to think about the bad, and probably about the good too. Just as usual I trained, performed and tried to skate at every competitions is such a way so that there were no questions to myself, so that my conscience would not trouble me.
When something didn’t work out at competitions, you probably heard negative comments.
Anna Shcherbakova: I realized over time that individual negative comments can’t piss me off. Another thing is when you constantly boil in this negativity, then it gradually rolls into a sad mood. Then it gets hard to get yourself out of this state.
Are you coping with it yourself?
Anna Shcherbakova: Yes, it’s more convenient for me to keep everything inside and sort it out myself. Therefore, I tried to cope with my worries myself.
In general, what kind of person are you in life – always positive or dependent on mood?
Anna Shcherbakova: Differently. I am very emotional in life. Little things can make me happy and a lot of things can upset me. For example, I come to training in good mood, the jump does not work and I can get upset because of this. Even now, after winning the Olympics.
Didn’t you see any special difficulties for you in Beijing either?
Anna Shcherbakova: If only the very expectation of the start. In Beijing we spent two weeks before the start of the competitions. I got so used to it that on the day of the short program it was difficult to convince myself that this was already the very main moment to which I’ve been preparing all this time. In general, it seemed that the beginning of the Olympics would never come. But in reality it turned out that these were one of the least nervous performances.
Can you describe in a few words what it is – the Olympics?
Anna Shcherbakova: … No, I can’t. I won’t be able to pick up words.
Do you often re-watch your free skate in Beijing?
Anna Shcherbakova: A couple of times, probably. Now the memories are still fresh, perhaps in the future I will re-watch to refresh them. For me, these are the moments I skate for. When I manage to show the best that I’m capable of, this feeling cannot be compared with anything. Sometimes you want to go back to those feelings, recall how it was then, it gives motivation. Therefore, sometimes I like to re-watch old performances. And my childhood performances too.
In addition to the victory, are there any other vivid emotions from the Olympics? Maybe a new day after the end of the competitions, when awareness gradually comes from what was done, became somehow special, brought unexpected events and impressions?
Anna Shcherbakova: No, there was nothing like that. Strong emotions I certainly experienced during the awards ceremony, when I stood on a pedestal. But my skates bring me much more emotions than what happens afterwards. For me, the brightest, most memorable moment of the Olympics is the end of my free program before the moment I leave the ice. Such a peak of all emotions.
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