Two years later, the figure skating Oscar ceremony was held offline. The ISU Skating Awards, since their inception in 2020, have never been able to bring all the figure skaters nominees together. In 2023, with the pandemonium behind us, the world’s best athletes chose to stay home and reach out via video.
Russia was outraged by the absence of Anna Shcherbakova, the only Russian woman nominated for the award, on the guest list. The ISU said that the 2022 Olympic champion was not sent an invitation due to “safety concerns”, but, as it turned out – she was not the only one who was not present at Hallenstadion that day. The winner of the Rookie of the Year Award, Isabeau Levito, was able to contact the hosts on the second attempt to thank them for the recognition, while Nathan Chen recorded a video message beforehand without going on air.
The Beijing Olympic champion won the “Most Valuable Figure Skater” category, for which Shcherbakova was also a contender. The Russian was in the lead in the fan vote on social media, and during the award broadcast on the ISU YouTube channel, fans flooded the comments with words of support for our skater. When the winner was announced, and it was not Shcherbakova, the broadcast was “zadizliked”.
And still, Russia was sympathetic to Anna’s defeat. Natalia Bestemianova said that “Nathan went to this for many years” and for her all is fair, and Tatiana Tarasova called the decision fair because “for many years, Chen leads men’s single skating forward.
Shcherbakova herself wasn’t upset about the loss to Chen, either. The Russian recorded a video message in English:
“First of all I would like to thank all the figure skating fans from all over the world, thanks to whom I was nominated for the ISU award. I have a great respect for Nathan Chan, Gabriela Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. They are living legends of our sport who have taken their disciplines to another level. I am honored to be nominated with them. Winning the Olympics is a dream for all professional athletes. For the sake of it we work day after day, year after year. Sport teaches us not to give up in the face of adversity, to overcome our weaknesses and unites us. I would like to congratulate the winner with all my heart and wish him success in all his endeavors.
Shcherbakova’s words touched the foreign fans. Here is what they write on the site Reddit:
- I love Anna. I can only imagine how uncomfortable she feels being nominated, knowing all the negative reactions associated with her nomination, especially since she was the only nominee from Russia.
- She’s so cool, to be honest. I’ve never been a huge fan of her skating, but she seems like a very well-mannered, polite person, and this video really highlighted those qualities. All the best to her!
- She must have seen all the hate comments on the ISU account (they had to turn off comments). And the fact that she was the only nominee from Russia made all the hate come down on her. Honestly, I don’t think ISU thought through all these issues before nominating her, it wasn’t the best move.
- Kill them with kindness, Anna!
- Even though I don’t really like her skating, she is very well spoken and diplomatic, good thing she did it in a foreign language. She deserves the role of sports ambassador. Honestly, she seems very nice, her reaction in the last moments of the 2022 Olympics when she was clearly uncomfortable…