Anna Shcherbakova: The biggest secret is just to work a lot and feel the maximum confidence in your abilities
Interview with Anna Shcherbakova for ELLE Russia.
by elle.ru dd. 26th March 2020
How did your path in figure skating begin?
Anna: At three and a half years old, parents brought me to the ice along with my older sister. When I first came to the rink, I really liked it. And this joy from the ice, speed and gliding is still with me. I was never forced or told that “you need to go to trainings.” I always had an interest to everything new.
Was there something in childhood that scared you? Training is not the same as going to Gorky Park to skate.
Anna: No. The only thing I was afraid on the ice was ice resurfacing machine. When it started to work, I quickly ran away from the rink (laughs).
And when did you moved to training jumps on the ice?
Anna: I always liked jumping. It is interesting to try new elements. I have no fear to try some kind of jump. Of course, for a second fear “what if” may appear, but then you jump and calm down. You think about your movements and forget about everything.
Do you remember the moment when you realized that figure skating will become something very important in your life?
Anna: Yes, awareness of this appeared when, at nine years old, I moved to the group of Eteri tutberidze. It was a more serious group, and there athletes trained who achieve results. I looked at them and saw how much work was needed. And Eteri Georgievna, she doesn’t just coach, she constantly talks to you – and my attitude has become more conscious over time. In her group, I began to do triple jumps and then I began to realize that this was no longer just a hobby, when you come and do what you like. Now I have set tasks for training, I have to fulfill them, achieve results, strive for my goal.
The training process consists of attempts and mistakes. Tell me how you feel and do when you do not succeed.
Anna: Of course, if something doesn’t work out, it’s hard. Everyone has unsuccessful trainings, but it is important to focus on what needs to be done to correct this mistake, and not on your emotions. I always think: “What to do tomorrow so that this does not happen again? What to fix? Where exactly were the mistakes? ” But even when I had injuries, I never wanted to quit. On the contrary, there was a desire to fix everything faster, to return to the ice faster.
How did your injury and recovery affect your attitude to how you performed before and now?
Anna: Minor injuries happen, and this is usual for professional sports. But with a broken leg it was very difficult, so I even came to trainings, sat and watched everyone skate, since I could not just sit at home without ice. Then I definitely understood that I can’t live without trainings.
After the injury, I constantly returned and replayed an unsuccessful jump in my head, worried that I was wasting a lot of time instead of progressing. After a while, of course, you begin to rethink your workouts.
The recovery period is also difficult, because it seems that “well, I went on the ice, now everything will be fine.” And then you understand that everything needs to be started anew, everything is different.
At the competitions, there was a feeling that I missed something in training, that everyone trained, but I didn’t, so now I’m weaker.
It took me a lot of time to prove to myself that nevertheless I returned to a high level and now I am competing on equals with everyone. Now I see that this moment has helped me become more confident in competitions.
How do you prepare yourself for an important competitions?
Anna: The biggest secret is just to work a lot and feel the maximum confidence in your abilities. The greatest confidence comes when you understand that you do it every time in trainings, so now I will go and do the same thing. If every day you confidently perform this set of elements in training, then it will be easier to do at competitions. And before the competitions, it is important to have a proper mindset. I warm up, talk with the coaches and listen to music, to distract and not to hear what’s going around.
Tell me, when do you feel at your best?
Anna: When a good performance of the free program ends at competitions. It is the greatest joy, pride and relief at the same time. When you have done your maximum, take the final pose – and you feel that you have shown everything that you have worked on for so long. This is even a greater surge of emotions than when I stand on a pedestal with a medal. At the moment when the program ended, that very pleasant tiredness comes. Perhaps this is happiness.
There is such a stereotype that athletes generally have no life other than sports and training. How do you spend your free time?
Anna: Of course, most of the free time takes studying. Completely free time from training and classes is one day off per week. I love to cook, knit toys, but most of all I like to spend time with my pets. My favorite tv-show is Sherlock. And from movies I like to watch comedies, it helps to distract from daily work and cheers up. Sometimes I listen to music, the newest in my playlist is Imagine Dragons and Sia.
Tell us about your style?
Anna: Sporty, probably! After all, we train every day, so I always need a lot of sportswear. If you have some training jacket, which no one else in the group has, then this is very cool! (laughs). As you can see from my instagram, I also love sneakers in everyday life. Today I wear Air Max 2090. They remind me of the air itself: transparent materials, unusual futuristic design and very lightweight. The model is not yet on sale, and it is always nice when people note what kind of sneakers you wear today. But for official events I pick up something more elegant, for example, a dress and heels, which I’m just learning to walk on and not stumble.
Do you have a favorite talisman that you always carry with you?
Anna: I can’t say that this is a talisman, but I always carry the napkin holder that was presented to me in Japan …
Napkin holder ?!
Anna: Yes, I take it everywhere – to trainings and competitions. Recently I made friends with a girl from Japan, who sends me parcels with various souvenirs, bears dressed in dresses from my programs, which her mother sews herself. And she also makes jewelry for my napkin holder, matching my dresses and programs. And for every competition I put them on a napkin holder.
Do you have a dream?
Anna: There are a lot in sport, but it is rather goals. I set myself the tasks for each training session, for example, a good run-through and to work on some element. The task may be for a week. There are more global goals for the year. Of course, there is a dream to perform at the Olympics and do it well.
Do you want to win?
Anna: Of course! Any athlete wants to win. Everyone says about the Olympics that this is a special competition, so I really want to perform there.
And besides figure skating, is there any global dream? Or some big goal?
Anna: First of all, get a good education and find my place in life. In the future, I would like to be able to help stray animals. I have a great respect for people who do this.
How do you think has figure skating changed from the time you started and now – especially ladies’ single skating?
Anna: Of course, it has changed a lot. In principle, no sport stands still. In figure skating, everything is changing very rapidly, and what was good before is not enough now.
And now it’s the turning point – athletes began to show quadruple jumps in competitions. Everyone performs at the limit of their abilities. You need to learn something new and strive to show it at competitions, to develop and go forward.
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