Anna Shcherbakova: “On the way to this championships, I had occasional desire to give up everything”
Anna Shcherbakova on the importance of going all the way, the excitement of Nathan Chen’s skating, and decisions along the performance.
source: olympicchannel.com dd. 4th April by Tatjana Flade
Anya, we’re talking on your birthday. Have you celebrated it somehow?
Anna Shcherbakova: Honestly, I don’t feel at all that it’s my birthday. We have gala today, and for me it is a gala day. Probably so much has happened in the last couple of days that I haven’t realized anything yet. Because for me, of course, it is a great joy that I won. And it’s also my birthday. I didn’t have time to rejoice on one occasion, and I already have another one. So while I am in some kind of prostration. I have already made the main gift to myself. The gala rehearsal is also a gift. When I am on the same ice with such skaters as Yuzuru Hanyu, Nathan Chen, it is a great joy for me. And for me it will be a very memorable birthday. Usually I have trainings this day, there are no parties, so now it is more interesting and this day is passing in an unusual way.
So you have not fully realized yet that you have become the world champion?
Anna Shcherbakova: I haven’t realized it yet and I catch myself thinking that I still don’t believe that the competition is over.
When do you think awareness will come?
Anna Shcherbakova: I think it will take me a lot time. Two days have passed since the free program, but I still have a complete lack of understanding of what happened and how it will or will not affect me.
How did you feel at this World Championships? Still, it was unusual, and besides, your parents could not be with you.
Anna Shcherbakova: I was ready for the fact that my parents would not be with me, and took it calmly. We were in touch, everything is fine. I did not build any hopes before the short program, I thought that I would try to give my best in every performance sp not to regret anything. After the short program there was a break day, and it was very nervous: no matter how much I wanted to shelter from all thoughts, I put pressure on myself, I thought it was my chance. All these thoughts that I couldn’t miss the opportunity made me nervous. In general, I approached the free program with the right attitude.
Not everything was turning out in training, but you pulled yourself together and performed very well. How do you get ready so well?
Anna Shcherbakova: I am very pleased with the performance of the short program. And there were no problems in training before it: I performed all triple jumps successfully. The mindset played a very important role there. And I coped with the short program well. In the free program, I fought to the end for each element, I also coped with excitement and nerves – there were no problems. The problem was in physical shape, in the inconsistency of the quadruple jump. There are complaints about my preparation, but at the competitions I did everything I could.
Did you decide in advance with the coaching staff that you will perform one quadruple in the free program?
Anna Shcherbakova: It was not known in advance. Everything changed along the way. When I arrived at the Championships, I was training a program with two different quads – with a lutz and a flip. Then on the day of the break, between the short and free program, I approached the coaches with a proposal to skate with two flips. From my own feelings, I understood that it would be better this way. They, looking at the training, agreed with me, and the option with two quadruple flips was planned. The decision to jump only one quad I made during the performance.
Before the program, I said to myself that if I fall from the first quadruple, I would go on the second one. But during the performance I realized that it would be right and safer to do a triple flip now. Falling from two different quads, you lost fewer points than when you fall from two same one. When I fall from two quadruple flips, I lose the combination and the base value of the program goes down. So I decided that it’s better not to jump one more quad than to jump it and fall. In the junior season, I had the same situation with two lutzes.
Is there a plan for quadruple jumps for the Olympic season?
Anna Shcherbakova: I didn’t have a specific plan on the eve of the free program at the World Championships. Therefore, now I cannot say for sure what will happen in the Olympic season. There is no point in guessing in advance.
Do you have any wishes for the Olympic program?
Anna Shcherbakova: Although this is the pre-Olympic season, I think from competitions to competitions. The World Championships is a very important event and I needed to focus on it. So I haven’t thought that the next season is Olympic. Now yes, you need to think about this, about programs, about jump content, preparation. But so far I can’t say anything for sure about this.
What conclusions have you drawn from the experience of performing at the World Championships?
Anna Shcherbakova: No matter how trite it may sound, I concluded again that we must go to the end and not give up. On the way to this championships, I had occasional desire to give up everything. There were many unsuccessful trainings in Moscow. I tried not to show it, but I was very upset about it.
I have been waiting for this competitions for so long and I wanted to be there in the best shape. But things don’t always go smoothly. And going through difficulties, I did not understand why all this accumulated on the eve of the most important competitions. So probably it’s very valuable that I did not stop at any of the preparation stages, I reached the very end. Nobody knew how things would turn out. And this championships proved that all people are not robots, everyone make mistakes. This is normal. As they say, ice is slippery. The fact that I fought to the end helped me to achieve such a result in the end.
You are really distinguished by the ability to get together. A small, fragile-looking girl and so strong inside.
Anna Shcherbakova: Everyone is surprised that I can set myself up for the performance. Although people who know me well know about it. I’m just a fairly closed person with strangers. And those who don’t know me well enough are surprised that I can get ready at the right time.
You pay a lot of attention to the mindset. Do you read something on the eve of the competitions?
Anna Shcherbakova: Impossible is still impossible to do, but you need to show the best of what you are capable of at the moment. It is important for me not to “splash” and show all the best that I can at the right moments of my performance. I am glad when I succeed. Because you always want to show only the best. There are points that I am unhappy with, which I think I could have done better. Therefore, there is always something to work on. I try not to read too much before the competitions, but I still follow the news, I cannot completely deny myself this. Therefore, sometimes I see something, but probably I am able to abstract myself from it so that it does not affect my skating in any way.
This time you watched the men’s performances from the stands.
Anna Shcherbakova: Yes, I was on the stands. The schedule made us very happy. We saw that we would finish a day earlier than the boys. And this is a huge rarity for us. Usually we always end the competitions. Finally there was a free day when you could come and cheer for the boys. This is an incredible experience. Before the competition, I always watch other disciplines, but it happens quite calmly, usually not from the stands. I watched pairs in my room, without unnecessary emotions, let’s say. And here you could watch, cheer. There were all the strongest skaters, and there were unreal emotions.
I’m so impressed by Nathan Chen, it was an incredible performance. Perhaps he made an even greater impression, because usually I watched his skating on the Internet, and this is completely different than live. I watched with bated breath, my legs were shaking, it seems to me that I was more nervous than during my own performances. Moreover, here I had the opportunity to see his trainings, to see how he prepared for these skates. All this is a great experience for me. I am extremely happy that I was able to see it. Also, Yuzuru Hanyu will always impress me. This is a brilliant skater, he delights me with any performance of the program. It is also interesting to watch him. There were also many other guys who are very interesting to watch. Yuma Kagiyama, Shoma Uno. We were also cheering for our guys. Zhenya Semenenko did very well. We cheered for Misha Kolyada and Moris Kvitelashvili.
The whole season turned out to be difficult for you, as well as for many. Can you analyze it already?
Anna Shcherbakova: Now there is some kind of devastation inside, and it’s hard to look at the whole season. Probably I can say that I faced many difficulties that athletes face in their profession. Sport is always about ups and downs. It is normal for sports that you face difficulties and temper yourself by overcoming them. If we evaluate the results of the season, then, of course, I am glad of them. Despite the fact that a large number of competitions that I would like to attend have been canceled, this season ends with the most important competitions. And for me this event ended with the maximum result, which I was even afraid to imagine. Still, the most difficult thing is unjustified expectations, when you expect something for yourself, believe in it, but this didn’t happen. It’s very hard to get through. Therefore, I tried not to put pressure on myself with the expectations that I would win. But, of course, it was inside me and I wanted it. Therefore, it’s an incredible joy for me.
How do you see your development compared to the previous season?
Anna Shcherbakova: This season I have definitely changed, one might say, I have matured. This is normal. There will be some changes every year. In general, I try to develop not only in technical terms, but also in the presentation of the programs, in all other aspects. With each competitions I gain experience and self-confidence. Last year I performed confidently, and this year I became even more confident in myself. Now, performing at competitions, I understood that last season at some competitions I was better prepared than now, and then something did not work for me, because then there was no such confidence in myself. Now I was probably prepared worse in some moments, but at the same time I was still pulling something out and, going back, I understood that I could have done it then if I had set myself up in a different way. Those. I find my previous flaws.
Now you have to participate in the World Team Trophy. What’s next? Rest?
Anna Shcherbakova: I will take part in the World Team Trophy and in the show. I want to approach it more relaxed, because there is a feeling that I have already spent all my nerves. No matter how it may seem that I am not nervous and know how to get ready for the performance, there are incredible worries inside. I was worried about the performances at the World Championships for quite a long time: both during preparation and during the competitions. So I’m pretty exhausted from all this. And I want to be more calm about the competitions, to enjoy it. However, this does not negate the fact that I will try to show my best. But I want to spend the rest of the season a little more calmly. Then take a rest, I really look forward to this. And to enter the new season with renewed vigor, having mentally and physically recovering.