Anna Shcherbakova: “If my return to competitions happens, the fans won’t miss it.”
Interview with Anna Shcherbakova.
source: Sport24 dd. 29th June 2023 by Konstantin Lesik
Nineteen-year-old Anna Shcherbakova, a year and four months after her victory at the Olympics in Beijing, continues to be in demand by major companies. On June 29, the Chinese electronics brand TCL announced its collaboration with the figure skater. Anna attended the ceremony in a bright red dress and delivered a speech. After the event, she spoke with Sport24 correspondent, discussing watching competitions on TV, participation in shows, a trip to France, vacation, and, of course, plans for the future.
“Today’s event was a bit nerve-wracking for me. You could say it’s the starting point of our collaboration. I’m confident that we’ll have many bright and unforgettable joint events, memories, so there’s a sense of anticipation for this partnership. It’s really cool that TCL promotes sports in different countries. As an athlete, it’s especially valuable and important to me. Speaking of technology, I primarily use televisions. It’s perfect to come back after a tough day, turn on a movie or series, and relax. Excellent screen, superb quality, so I give it a thumbs-up,” Anna began.
Is it pleasant to be on the list of such well-known partners that collaborate with TCL?
Anna Shcherbakova: Of course! I mentioned from the stage earlier that it’s a great honor for me to join such a large-scale and ambitious project and become a representative of TCL in Russia. I’m very happy about it.
What do you like to watch on TV?
Anna Shcherbakova: Movies, series — it depends on my mood. I enjoy movies that really challenge my mind; I don’t like to watch something light. I used to say that I don’t like watching movies at all because I felt like I was wasting my time. I couldn’t even concentrate on watching. Then I realized that I need movies where I can’t distract myself, where I’m constantly paying attention to the smallest details. It’s very hard to find such movies: they’re either detective stories or thrillers — something that really challenges your mind.
Not long ago, there was the International Olympic Day. After a year and a half, what are your emotions regarding the Games in Beijing? Do you go back to that Olympic day often? Do you take out your medal frequently? Do you look at it and where do you keep it?
Anna Shcherbakova: I keep it at home, on a shelf, nicely displayed. Generally, I don’t take it out unless it’s requested for some filming. But the memories, they’re one of the most significant events in my life, definitely the most important in my sporting career. So, of course, I often reminisce about it, and now only with positive emotions.
Is there a specific competition that you frequently rewatch?
Anna Shcherbakova: I have a rather mundane list of competitions that are my favorites. I can’t say that I sit down and rewatch my performances often, but if I’m in the mood, it would be the performances from my three winning Russian Naionals, the Olympics…
You didn’t mention the World Championships.
Anna Shcherbakova: Because I don’t rewatch it (laughs). Of course, I’ve watched it a couple of times, but with less enthusiasm.
Anna Shcherbakova: If I made any mistakes in my performance, then after the competition, I’ll review it a million times to examine everything in detail. But overall, I want to recall more of the positive emotions. My mistakes don’t bring me those kinds of emotions, so I don’t like watching them. And when the free skate starts with a fall, there’s no enthusiasm after watching it. I mean, I’m still proud of that performance. I know perfectly well in my head that after falling, to gather myself, finish everything, fight for the performance — I’m still proud of doing that lutz-loop as the final element. In principle, I’m proud of the performance, but I wouldn’t say that I frequently rewatch it. It’s more about the emotions of the victory. Sometimes I come across videos where people make compilations of that moment. It captured the most sincere reaction to the victory, and I enjoy rewatching it.
This year, you have a new schedule with many public events. Was it difficult to adapt?
Anna Shcherbakova: I’m already used to it. I think it’s great when there’s a lot of work, when you’re always busy with something. I find it more challenging when there’s nothing to do, but when you’re constantly doing something, it’s more comfortable for me.
Can you compare this stress to a demanding competition schedule?
Anna Shcherbakova: They’re slightly different types of pressures. Naturally, you get physically exhausted when preparing for competitions, training from morning till night, with no time for anything else. But emotionally and mentally, you get more tired when you try to juggle everything at once. I personally get more tired from the media work, whereas from training, if they’re good, I get energized. Sometimes, I go to practice after an event, feeling exhausted, drained like a squeezed lemon; it’s even hard to say a word. That’s because, overall, I’m an introvert, and I often expend energy during social interactions. So, when I enter practice feeling depleted, everything starts to come together, and in the end, I leave the training session with a lot of energy, feeling charged up. I think to myself, ‘Where did all this energy come from?’ In theory, I should have been tired, but instead, I’m recharged.
Recently, you went to Murmansk for a noble cause: to make the world better and cleaner, helping activists in the city clean up litter. Please tell me about that experience. Did everything go as planned?
Anna Shcherbakova: Everything went exactly as intended. It was a very quick trip, just one day, there and back. Firstly, it was my first time in Murmansk — a breathtakingly beautiful city, and the nature immediately captivates you. Secondly, they had polar nights there; it didn’t get dark at all. For me, it was very interesting to travel around our homeland, to explore regions where I hadn’t been before, even though I’ve toured many cities in Russia for our shows. And of course, there was a very important goal: we accomplished it, cleaning up the riverbank. My task was also to document it in some way — we filmed various videos there — so overall, everything went incredibly well, just as planned.
Lately, there have been many events featuring figure skaters, such as the “School Battle” final and Moscow Sports Day. Do you think they contribute to the popularization of figure skating?
Anna Shcherbakova: I think figure skating, especially female figure skaters, is currently one of the most popular sports in Russia. Many people follow and support the girls. So, it’s great that despite the absence of international competitions, we have such a love for figure skating within the country, such support for the athletes. It’s cool that there are so many different events happening.
You portrayed the goddess in the show ‘The Love Story of Scheherazade’ and Princess Leia in ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ (Tatiana Navka’s shows – ed.) Which of the roles feels closer to you?
Anna Shcherbakova: I think the beauty of figure skating and its specificity lie in the fact that you can try yourself in completely different roles. What I enjoy the most is transforming myself and trying something different. Perhaps the audience may prefer one character more and feel that I portray it better, but for me, that’s actually one of the favorite aspects of figure skating —being able to be diverse.
Is it challenging to immerse yourself in a character?
Anna Shcherbakova: No, I always love it. There might be some characters that are slightly more challenging, but for me, it’s more of a beloved aspect, so I enjoy it.
In May and June, you actively shared beautiful vacation photos with your fans. How did you spend your time? Which place did you like the most? Were you able to relax before the series of sports events and shows?
Anna Shcherbakova: Yes, I had an absolutely wonderful vacation. And towards the end of the vacation, our whole family managed to gather, which we hadn’t been able to do for a long time, and we did some traveling together. It reminded me of my childhood a bit — we used to travel as a family so often. In Paris, I even posted a photo titled ‘Nine Years Later’— we took a picture in the same spot again, so it brought back many pleasant memories.
You recently had a masterclass in France. Who invited you, and how did it go?
Anna Shcherbakova: I was invited by Florent Amodio. We met a couple of years ago. I had been following him for a long time. I watched his last European Championships live on TV, and it was very touching — I cried in front of the screen. I’ve been following him as a skater since childhood, even when I was very young and didn’t have any notable prospects myself. We were mutual followers on social media, and he would congratulate me on certain competitions. For me, it’s always an indescribable feeling when a sportsman whom you followed as a child, who seemed unattainable, knows you.
Then I started participating in major competitions, and many skaters whom I followed in my childhood would write to me, support me, and congratulate me. It gives me a lot of strength. The first reaction is surprise that they know you. That was how our communication began. A couple of years ago, we met in person, and we found it very interesting to communicate together. We had a connection and many topics to discuss. One of them, by the way, is Novogorsk, where Florent trained a lot.
Throughout this year, Florent often invited me and said, ‘It would be great if you could come to the academy.’ So it was more of a friendly visit than an official masterclass. Finally, there was an opportunity to combine a family trip and also visit Florent. I went there, had a great time for a couple of days. I went to their training sessions, initially just observing everything that was happening. For me, it was also a great experience — to see how they train. I saw many interesting things.
Then I went on the ice. At first, I was a bit shy, and Florent would ask me, ‘What do you think about this and that?’ We discussed it, and I shared my vision. Often, I would look at someone and say— not even as criticism but just sharing my experience, ‘I like this, you can do it like this.’ And Florent would say, ‘Exactly! Wait a moment.’ He would call the skater over and say, ‘Now, tell them the same thing.’ I would repeat the same advice. He would say, ‘See, how many times have I told you that? Now, when Anya says it, you’ll understand immediately.’ There were situations when I would say something, and Florent would say, ‘I’ve told her that ten times, but when you said it, she immediately corrected it.’ Perhaps it was just a fresh perspective. I attended the training sessions and shared my experience.
At the end, there was something like a press conference, where all the skaters asked me questions, and we simply had a conversation. In the end, it was more like a regular conversation than a press conference. We spent several hours together, and the guys had many different questions. I just shared my opinions and experiences, and we discussed them.
Was there anything unexpected asked?
Anna Shcherbakova: No, those usual for skaters things. There were questions about routines, preparation for competitions — many were interested in learning about that. In general, we discussed the pressing issues of figure skaters.
Is the training process different in France and Russia?
Anna Shcherbakova: I can’t say that I have anything to compare it to. In the Russian school, I was only at the “Khrystalny” rink, so I can compare it to the approach of our coaches. Of course, there are differences, but I really liked how Florent approaches his work. He doesn’t put pressure on the athletes; instead, he leads by example, showing the dedication required in skating. I think he demonstrates what can be achieved through his own results.
Anna, there is a lot of talk about your comeback — Ilia Averbukh said that you are considering it. Should we expect to see you in competitions in the new season? Do you miss tournaments?
Anna Shcherbakova: Honestly, I don’t like discussing unfinished matters. If it happens, you and the fans won’t miss it. Everyone will find out, and there will be something to discuss. But for now, I prefer not to comment or discuss it.
What are you working on in Novogorsk?
Anna Shcherbakova: I’m working on regaining physical fitness (smiles).
What are your plans for the upcoming summer?
Anna Shcherbakova: Grandiose plans (laughs) — both training camps and work. So, very busy plans.
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