Winner of the third stage of the Cup of Russia series, in Sochi, two-time National champion Anna Shcherbakova sat down with RIA Novosti to talk about her mindset, her performance at the competition, and the atmosphere in the resort city.
Anna Shcherbakova’s interview with RIA Novosti reporter Anatoly Samokhvalov; translated to English:
R-Sport: Anna, the stages of the Cup of Russia are close to the ISU Grand Prix in terms of their status. Do you feel that way?
Shcherbakova: In principle, at competitions I do not feel much difference in the status of the tournament. All of them are associated with excitement, and the rest is made up of different points, more related to my readiness for the tournament than its significance. Therefore, all my thoughts were only about my performances.
R-Sport: Did you not think about your rivals or anything else?
Shcherbakova: It’s always very distracting, too much attention crushes, so you try, as usual, to do your job and not get hung up on some other things.
R-Sport: Have you already learned not to be distracted?
Shcherbakova: Probably, this should always be continued to learn, because it is impossible to get used to it. Moreover, this year the excitement is much greater, and I am curious, I am always very interested. I always read a lot from this, and before the start I try to limit myself from this, so as not to be distracted. So that all thoughts are only about their elements, and that the mood does not get lost in any way.
R-Sport: What did you read about shortly before the start?
Shcherbakova: I’m like an ordinary figure skating fan. That is, I am interested in everything related to our sport. I love to follow all the competitions. Now the Skate America Grand Prix is underway, I watched those who perform there. It is interesting for me to follow all the news in figure skating, in this regard, I do not miss tournaments.
R-Sport: Who have you seen at Skate America?
Shcherbakova: The skates were not all successful, but everyone saw the results. Nathan Chen impressed everyone the most, with each of his performances, I understand that he is some kind of unique person, because for me everything that he does is unique in general. How calmly he goes to the start – everyone should learn this. I don’t know a single person who would be so confident, calmly tuned into competitions, while I really like his jumps, skating, and indeed everything. Super, in general.
R-Sport: Here, in Sochi, you performed with dignity at your level, showed an excellent quadruple flip, but there was a feeling that the triple loop declared war on you.
Shcherbakova: I declared war in my head, apparently, because, of course, this comes from my head. This is not a jump which has such big problems from the technical side, I got it during the six-minute warm-ups where I performed everything. Naturally, there are flaws, but this is not a jump, during the execution of which, one must doubt. And, on the contrary, at this competition I had a lot of thoughts about it. I skated the short program and thought only about this combination, how to make it better. In the free skate, all my thoughts are usually about quadruple jumps. As soon as I fulfill them, then I calmly do all the triples, if there are mistakes, then they are not serious. And here, after the short program, I remained just as fixated on this combination, so there were mistakes. We must be able to bring it to automatism so that there are no unnecessary thoughts during the performance.
R-Sport: Did the repeated triple jump bring you to tears?
Shcherbakova: Well, not to tears, no. Still, in the short one I was really upset, because right in front of me I set big tasks for this start and wanted to skate the short one perfectly, so that there was nothing to complain about. That evening, I had a lot of thoughts, but I tuned into the free skate in a completely different way. Firstly, I myself was very pleased with the flip, which does not give me the opportunity to be upset and gives me so much optimism, because I am really happy about it. In the first moments after the skate I was tired, upset about the second half of the program, when after a good flip I crumpled everything that happened next. But I can’t say that the free skate upset me. It was a performance with its advantages, but there were also a lot of things that needed a lot of work. Working on the performance.
R-Sport: By the stage of the ISU Grand Prix in Moscow, you, apparently, should also have a quadruple lutz in the free skate.
Shcherbakova: Should. As soon as I return to Moscow, we will still work during this break, we devoted a lot of time to quadruple jumps, there is progress, so I try in the same spirit.
R-Sport: Does the composition of the participants at the stage of the ISU Grand Prix in the capital affect your mood?
Shcherbakova: It will somehow influence it, but I will try, as always, not to think about it, because, probably, 90 percent of the mood and excitement depend on your readiness. Your mindset and the way you skate it in training is precisely the overwhelming component of the mood. Because how can one of the participants influence the way you worked in training? No way. Therefore, this is the most important thing.
R-Sport: Do you feel that it will be practically the National Championship?
Shcherbakova: I think, yes, in terms of the composition it will be approximately the same as the Russian Championship. And all the starts in this half of the season are Russian, you just have to take experience from each competition and hope that by the end of the season there will be international tournaments.
R-Sport: And you are a specialist in Russian Championships. Therefore, for sure, there is inner confidence before the Grand Prix stage.
Shcherbakova: I will try to enter the competition as confidently as possible.
R-Sport: Tiffany Zahorski talked about the unusual surroundings of the Sochi stage, when you have to live in hotels, not like usual, call a taxi yourself to get to trainings and competitions. Does it amuse or confuse you?
Shcherbakova: Firstly, the weather in Sochi is very good, warm and sunny. Our hotel is like this, where bamboo is everywhere, you go in – right away the pool, you are offered a spa, everything. And many people here feel like they are on vacation, as if they did not come to the competition. The atmosphere is a bit unusual, it seems that you are really at a resort, and then you come to the rink and you have to compete. I can’t say that it confused me. I came to the rink, and everything there was the same as usual.