Anna Shcherbakova: “If you won all of the major medals between the ages of 15 and 18, all doors will be open to you. You can start a whole new life. I don’t see anything wrong with that either.”

Posted on 2022-12-28 • 1 comment


Anna Shcherbakova answered questions about figure skating.

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source: Zhiza youtube channel

Isn’t it cold to skate in such costumes?

Anna Shcherbakova: In training, we never get cold, because there is a golden rule: if you are cold, then you are not working well. When you work well, you even feel hot. At competitions, when we perform in dresses, if we are not warmed up before the performance, then it is cold near the ice. Therefore, near the boards, we are all constantly warming up. Usually we train in training clothes, but there are skating rinks where it is so cold that even in training clothes you dress warmer, but it’s still cold, the muscles freeze, and it becomes harder to jump. Most skaters do not like such rinks. Although there are those who say that in warm arenas it is harder to breathe and harder to finish the program, it’s different for everyone, but I prefer warm arenas. 

We usually check the costumes; a few days before the competitions, we wear them in training and make sure everything is comfortable. However, there are times when the costume travels to the competitions after the skater, on the next flight with someone. But we have a dressmaker who knows us by heart and can make a comfortable dress without looking at us. 

First comes the idea for the program. Basically, coaches come up with artistic images for each skater, and it happens that the costume is then born according to the idea. They see the program and express some of their ideas—what color is suitable, what style. Of course, the professional dressmaker who makes these costumes also comes and watches the program to understand what will work best for it. Ahlete, of course, can always express their opinion. It happens that the program is born, and immediately there is an idea for a costume. I also had this when they did the Firebird program, the coaches immediately thought that there would be a transformation, that I would start in a purple-blue dress and in the middle I would change it to red. I do not think that this will add points, but at least it will impress both the audience and the judges, and the program will be remembered.

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The triple toe loop is for feeling warm? (In Russian, toe loop sounds like “tulup,” which is a coat with fur inside, usually from sheepskin – ed.)

Anna Shcherbakova: This is a jump. Toe loop was my favorite jump for a while. This is the first quad jump I’ve done in training. What is the connection with the sheepskin coat? I don’t know. There are six standard jumps; I think it is impossible to come up with a new jump. This is an established quantity that was invented long ago. Each jump appeared when some skater invented it, and most of the elements are named after someone.

Now, perhaps, this is the most difficult thing – to come up with something new. And if a skater has something new that only they do, it is always remembered. I even know skaters who are trying to come up with something on purpose—some element to be named after them. But over the past few years, it is very difficult to name such elements.

If the skates are dull and I’m smart, will it be possible to skate?

Anna Shcherbakova: I think many skaters adhere to this judgment because I know professional skaters who don’t bother much with equipment and can not sharpen their blades and not pay attention when the lace is tornning, hook falls off, there are some notches on the blades, and so on. It happens, but most people try to approach it responsibly: they sharpen their blades in advance, check all the laces, and change them before the competitions. 

It happened to me too, before the competitions the boot-tongues came off. It happened that, after training at competitions, hooks fell off. This is a difficult topic because it is not predictable. I know skaters who have their blades broken, but this happens more often with boys. There must be a lot of pressure on the blade. 

Many skaters joke that on ordinary skates for public skating, we skate just like everyone else; we no longer have any superiority, and we are losing it along with our usual skates. Basically, the selection of skates takes place in childhood, when you come to choose your first skates. If you go to figure skating shops, then there are always a lot of children who walk around the store in skates and try to understand what is comfortable and what is not. Basically, in childhood, you choose your comfortable skates. When the load increases, we take a new, more advanced model that can withstand a higher load. There are unique ones who jump quadruple jumps on skates for double jumps, but in general, the professionalism of skates grows with the athlete, so we change them to a more advanced model. But it is usually quite difficult to switch from model to model. This is a very rare practice, but I heard that there are skates that are made according to a cast. Usually the most ordinary skates from the most ordinary figure skating store. There are also special devices that, if something is pressing somewhere, can change the shape of the boot. 

I have never tried hockey skates, but when I was little and was learning salchow, the coach scared me that she would put me on hockey skates so that I wouldn’t have toe picks and wouldn’t press hard on them.

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About programs

Anna Shcherbakova: The main backbone of what we have in the programs is set by the ISU rules. We have clear rules by which programs are created. Previously, there was a 6.0 system, and everyone skated their own set of elements. There are stories about athletes who changed their program along the way and added a jump. I didn’t succeed with a jump, so I’ll try it again. Now it won’t work like that. We create programs together with the coach and choreographer. Usually on an empty ice when there is no one. If you are given a program, they often call you to the evening or night session. Such a calm atmosphere, listening to music, and the creative process are going on. Everyone works differently. The main task is to make everything convenient and interesting for the athlete, so it looks beautiful and does not interfere with performing the most difficult elements. Therefore, at the beginning, a set of elements is determined, and then a program is gradually built based on them.

The athletes’ initiative is appreciated, because the main thing is that they feel the music well. If there is something that you like and dream of doing, you should definitely approach the coaches and let them listen. But then, the assessment from the coaches is important. If they say, “Yes, this is what you need,” then super; you agreed. If not, then, as the coaches say, “for exhibitions.”

Yes, there is a lot of classical music in figure skating, most of the programs are choreographed to some already well-known music, and very rarely there are some new, modern pieces. It happens; there are experiments, but it is an exception in figure skating. Probably the skating itself is so graceful and smooth that such music is often chosen, but there are also such legendary programs for fast, sharp compositions.

The highest award is participation in the Ice Age?

Anna Shcherbakova: Now I come across this phrase more and more often. Of course, a lot of people follow the competition, but for many acquaintances who do not follow it closely, participation in the Ice Age means much more, as if I had finally moved to the next stage of development.

Like I skated in all these competitions and finally reached the peak of my career and starred in the Ice Age. This is cool; it’s also something new, but, of course, I think that for any athlete, awards in sports will always be a priority.

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About the Olympics

Anna Shcherbakova: I can’t say that I really dreamed about Olympic gold and constantly somehow visualized it. Of course, when the Olympics were getting closer, there were such thoughts. I tried to avoid them so as not to be distracted from the preparation. I understood that if I do 100 percent of my maximum, I will definitely never regret it. And then everything depends on other skaters, and on the judges – what medal it will bring me.

The Olympic gold medal seemed to be an incredible joy. It seems that you will continue to enjoy it until the end of your life. Olympic gold—what could be better? As if I would wake up every day as the happiest person in this universe. When I found out I was an Olympic champion, they showed me and my gaze into the void. Zero emotion. Of course, this is not what I imagined, because in the first moments, it is difficult to realize what is happening. Usually, there are a lot of feelings behind this. I gave everything I had during my skating so that inside there was silence, peace, and no emotions. They show me, and I think, “Probably, I need to rejoice now. Or it’s not necessary? If I’m not happy, I probably don’t need to show it. What should I do?” There was no bright joy or bright emotions, only calm awareness. I realized that I was happy that it was and ended so that in the main second and minute of my sports career I was able to do everything. In fact, such a dream came true that all the athletes strive for. I came to this realization more calmly and gradually.

Most likely, this “Yes!” It was only after the performance. I coped, skated my program flawlessly, achieved my goal, gave my all, and the final “Yes!” in which there were the last human emotions. And then they ended; there were no longer such bright and stormy emotions. I then took my Olympic medal before going to bed. I sat and examined it from every angle, realizing that this was a reality. This happened frequently, even after I returned from Beijing; sometimes I discovered it at home, sat and watched, “Yes, it is mine.”

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About training after competitions

Anna Shcherbakova: We are more accustomed to taking a day or two off and returning to the same schedule. It has always been so. After any competitions and after the Olympics, I returned to the ice a day after my arrival. There are competitions ahead, and preparations continue. In fact, at first, you have this euphoria. You have a stronger desire to work and learn new things; your energy is rushing. At the rehearsal before the exhibitions, I had a training session, where I showed even more than at the competitions. There was a lot of energy—the victory gave emotions and adrenaline. I even went to learn something that I had never done before. When the emotions subsided, it became a little harder.

About peak shape

Anna Shcherbakova: For girls, the peak shape is usually between 15 and 18 years old. Then comes the “beloved” transitional age, when the girls change and it becomes more difficult. There is an opinion that it is possible to wait out this age and then return to shape again. On the one hand, it’s cool to continue your career and skate for many years; this is one way of development. Another possibility is that if you won all of the major medals between the ages of 15 and 18, all doors will be open to you. You can start a whole new life. I don’t see anything wrong with that either. These are two different development paths, both of which are beautiful. Boys usually show their maximum after 20 years, it seems.

What do you like about figure skating?

Anna Shcherbakova: This is a sport that combines technical skill and art. And I like them both. The technical aspect, as well as the work on new elements, jumps. Performing a quadruple jump, especially for the first time, is a very cool emotion. I like the art that is in figure skating—the creation of new programs and new images. It has always been important for me. In my childhood, I always had bright programs: The Pink Panther, The Addams Family. I really like the performance in competitions. You alone go on the ice; everyone is looking at you. You have a few minutes of fame when everyone is looking at you. The main thing is to realize it at the right moment. It is an incredible surge of adrenaline and emotions. Most athletes probably enjoy it; otherwise, it is difficult to perform in public when you feel a lot of responsibility. But it has always helped me. Often, after unsuccessful trainings, I went to the start, charged with this energy, and everything worked out at the right time.

What don’t you like about figure skating?

Anna Shcherbakova: It’s cold, it hurts to fall, and my legs are numb. I don’t know what else—some injuries. Sometimes you get tired of the constant routine. Professional sport, of course, is when you train from morning to evening, and there are elements that may not work out for days, weeks, months, or even years. Sometimes you need to come and fall from the same element in order to learn how to do it. Sometimes you just get tired of this routine, but somehow I coped with it. I had moments when I needed to fall, fall, fall from one jump for months so that it would work out at the right time. 


One response to “Anna Shcherbakova: “If you won all of the major medals between the ages of 15 and 18, all doors will be open to you. You can start a whole new life. I don’t see anything wrong with that either.””

  1. ioanykie says:

    Cool interview, Scherbakova always has smart things to say.

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