Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova, in an interview with the ZhIZA YouTube channel, answered stupid and banal questions about figure skating: the athlete gave a detailed answer to each of them. Below are Anna’s main quotes about the nuances in preparing costumes and equipment, mixed emotions from winning the Olympics, transitional age and moments that infuriate in figure skating.
We don’t get cold during training. There is a golden rule: if you are cold, then you are not working well. When you work well, you are usually hot, not cold. At competitions, when we compete in dresses, if you are not warmed up, then the ice is cold. Therefore, just near the side, we all constantly walk, warm up, try to somehow warm up. Usually training takes place in training clothes, but there are skating rinks where the temperature is so low that even if you dress warmly, it is still cold. Muscles freeze, it becomes harder to jump. Most athletes do not like such rinks. Although there are those who say that in warm arenas it is harder to breathe and finish the program. It’s different for everyone, but I prefer warm arenas. It’s not hard for me to ride them, but they are always warm and you feel your body better.
We usually check the suits a few days before the competition, we go out in them for training, so that everything is comfortable. There are force majeure situations when the costume is sent to the competitions after the skater on some next flight, with someone else. We have a dressmaker who knows us by heart and can make a comfortable dress without looking.
At the beginning comes the idea for the program. Basically, coaches come up with images for each skater. It happens that the costume is born later, already under the idea. They see the program and express some of their ideas, as it seems to them, what color will suit, what style. Of course, there is a professional – this is a dressmaker who makes these suits. She always comes, watches the program, to also understand what is best for her. An athlete can always express his opinion. It happens that the program is born, and immediately there is an idea for a costume, how to complement the image. I also had this when they made the Firebird program for me. The coaches immediately thought that there would be a reincarnation – I would start in a purple-blue suit, and in the middle of the program I would change the dress to red. I don’t think it will add points. But, at least, it will impress the audience and judges, the program will be remembered.
About new elements.
Toeloop is a jump, for a while it was my favorite. This is the first quad jump I’ve done in training. The push comes from the prong of the left leg. I don’t know what connection with a sheepskin coat from an element of clothing (in Russian, toeloop means a sheepskin coat). There are standard six jumps. A new jump, I think, is impossible to come up with. This is some kind of established quantity that has been invented for a long time.
Now, probably, to come up with a new one is very difficult. If a skater has something new that only he does, it is always remembered. I even know athletes who are trying to come up with something on purpose, some element to be named after him. But over the past few years, it is very difficult to remember such cases.
I know many skaters who don’t bother much with equipment and may not sharpen their skates, not pay attention if the lace breaks somewhere or the hook falls off. The majority still tries to approach this responsibly: sharpen skates in advance, check the laces, change them before the competition so that there are no force majeure. Before the competition, my tongue somehow came off the skate. After training at competitions, hooks came off. This is also a difficult topic, because you never know when it will fall off. I know skaters whose blades broke, but this is more common in boys, they have more load on the blades.
Many skaters joke that we skate on ordinary ice skates just like everyone else. We no longer have any superiority, we are losing it along with our usual skates. Basically, the selection takes place in childhood, when you come to choose your first skates. If you go to figure shops, there are always a lot of children who walk in these boots and try on what is convenient or not convenient. When the load increases, we take a newer, improved model that can withstand a greater load. There are unique ones who jump quads on skates for doubles. In theory, they should not withstand such a load. So the professionalism of skates grows with the athlete.
I have never tried ice hockey. When I was little and taught salchow, the coach scared me that he would put on hockey skates so that I would not have teeth and I would not press hard on them.
About staging programs
The main backbone of what we have in the programs is set by the rules that the ISU comes up with. We have clear rules by which programs are created. Previously, there was a score of 6.0, and everyone skated some kind of their own set of elements. There are stories when an athlete himself changed the program along the way and added some kind of jump. I didn’t manage to jump – I’ll do it again. Now it won’t work like that. We create programs together with the coach and director. Basically – on empty ice when there is no one. If you are given a program, they often call you to the evening or night ice. Such a calm atmosphere, listening to music and the creative process is going on. Everyone works differently. The main task is to make everything convenient and interesting for the athlete, look beautiful and 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 under them.
The initiative from the athletes is welcome, because the main thing is that the athlete should feel this music well. If there is something that you like and dream of rolling, you should definitely approach the coaches and let them listen. But then the assessment from the coaches is important. If they also listen and say: “Yes, this is what you need,” then super – you agreed. If not, then, as the coaches say, “for demonstration”.
About emotions at the Olympics
I can’t say that I really dreamed about Olympic gold and constantly somehow visualized it. Of course, when the Olympics were getting closer and closer, there were such thoughts. I tried to drive them away so as not to be distracted from the preparation. I understood that if I go out and 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 gold of the Olympic Games seemed to be an incredible joy. It seems that you will continue to walk and 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. At the moment when I found out that I was an Olympic champion, they showed me my gaze into the void. Zero emotion. Of course, this is not what I imagined, because it is difficult to realize what is happening in the first moments. Usually there is a lot of anxiety behind this. I gave it my all at the box office so that inside there was silence, peace, tumbleweed and no emotions. They show me, I think: “So, probably, we need to rejoice now. Or not necessary? If I’m not happy, I probably don’t need it. What to do at all? There was no bright joy and bright emotions, only calm awareness. I came to the conclusion 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, to which all athletes go. I came to this realization more calmly, gradually.
Probably, this is “Yes!” It was only after the rental. I coped, skated my program perfectly clean, fulfilled my goal, gave all my strength and the last “Yes!”, In which there were the last human emotions. And then they ended, there were no such bright and stormy ones. Then before going to bed I found an Olympic medal. She sat, looked at her from all sides – that this is a reality and has already happened. This happened often, even after returning from Beijing, sometimes she found her at home, sat and watched: “Everything is mine.”
About training after tournaments
We are accustomed to take a day or two off and return to the same schedule. It has always been so. After any starts and after the Olympics, I returned to the ice a day after arrival. There are competitions ahead, preparations continue. In fact, at first you are more likely to be on this euphoria. You have even more desire to work, to learn something new, the energy is rushing. At the rehearsal before the demonstration performances, 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. She even went to learn something that she had never done before. When the emotions subsided, it became a little harder.
About peak form
In girls, the peak form is usually from 15 to 18 years. Then the “beloved” transitional age begins – the girls change, it becomes harder. There is an opinion that it is possible to wait out this age and overtrain, and then return to form again. On the one hand, it’s cool to continue your career and skate for many years, this is one way of development. Another option is if you won all the main medals at the age of 15-18, all the doors are open for you. You can start a whole new life. I don’t see anything wrong with that either. These are two different development paths, both are beautiful. Boys usually break up and give out a maximum after 20 years, it seems.
About what infuriates in figure skating
It’s cold, it hurts to fall, my legs are numb. I don’t know what else, some injuries. Sometimes you get tired of the constant routine. Of course, professional sport is when you train from morning to evening, and there are elements that can not be obtained not only for days, weeks, months, but also for 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 come for months and fall, fall, fall from one jump, in order to do it at the right time.