`For how long will Scherbakova stick around?' Interview with the parents

TAHbKA

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Dmitrii Kuznetsov's interview with Julia and Stanislav Scherbakovs - Anna's parents for sport-express.ru

DK: Julia, Stanislav, are you going nuts when the kids are around the whole day long? It've been more than 2 months now.
JS: Anna's last practice on the ice was on March 20th, the Friday. And on Monday the school holidays began, which continued into the self isolation. We did not expect it to last for so long. So here, 2 months later she is going back on the ice.
SS: It was unusual indeed. We are in our summer house - 6 people together. The days are busy - every window sounds different - the online studies, the online work. We all meet for lunch, then we are alone again - some are practicing, some are working and some are playing with the dogs. At 21:00 we meet again and play games. We had finished all the games we had here and ordered some new. We also decided we would all keep a diary and read it later when everyone is an adult. We'll certainly learn new things about ourselves. The worst thing was when the internet went down for a couple a days. Otherwise its' quite fun.
JS: Kids finally had a chance to meet the housekeeping. Were introduced to the hoover, the kitchen...

DK: Anna said she is quite independent with her own point of view and you trust her. Yet I got to read Julia saying you are more strict than Eteri Tutberidze. Where do you draw the line? And Stanislav, are you the `good cop'?
SS: The `cop' is certainly not my thing. As for the `good' - yeah, I am sometimes. If they all go to bed in time...
JS: Anna was always very independent and hungry for knowledge. She attended the kindergarten every day. We were able to combine the practices with a full time school for at least the first two years. Figure skating is an individual sport yet it's important for the child to socialize. Socializing with the athletes only is not enough. In the kindergarten and school the child learns that figure skating is not the whole world, just a small fraction of it, even if it's the most important one. Anna attended the drawing classes, music, swimming and even tennis as a kid. Later, unfortunately, we had to give it all up.
Am strict in a way that there is no `tomorrow' for me. No matter how tired Anna is after the practice or how much she wants to sleep in in the morning she knows she can't miss the lessons. Even though am becoming less strict with the time. But then dad comes into the picture and insists she must study physics and math will keep her thoughts in order.

DK: Can you give her a skating advice? Music?
JS: When the kids first start skating the parents are often asked to help picking the music. Of course I did it as well. And always badly. The coaches did just fine without my input.
SS: Am just a viewer. I tried asking questions such as `why are you doing this that way? Perhaps the other way would be better'. The answer was always the same `Dad! You don't understand a thing! That's the only right way!'. Though sometimes I would get an explanation why that way. And it was well justified. Especially if you take the intonations and the facial expressions into an account.
I like being a viewer. I don't understand a thing in the jumps and the spins nor in any technical details. I can't even always tell the step sequence. I watch and decide whether I liked it or not. When your kid makes the whole arena stand up it's an amazing feeling. Being proud she made it, done it, put it all together and kept the right mood. The crowd does not react when they don't feel it. And the understanding how much needed to be invested and what was needed to overcome. Those are the moments you are living for

DK: Is Anna alone on the ice? Who usually attends her practices?
JS: I am usually present in her practices. I analyse what went well, what in my point of view she did not work on enough. I sometimes voice my remarks. But all and all I think I remain just a mom. Besides, am not a skating specialist, my role is more mental support.
SS: I only attend the summer camps - it's interesting watching the creative process, the choreographing of the new programmes.

DK: Who attends the competitions more often?
JS: I attend all the competitions, but I don't watch them since, I think she was 8. My nerves can't take the pressure. Usually Anna calls herself after the skate and tells how she did. For me the most important is whether she is happy with her self and it does not always depend on her placement.
SS: The day of the competition Anna and her mom have a special ritual. Even if I attend it's a breakfast, the final practice and off I go. The right mood for the skater is a huge part of the success and I don't want to bother the girls focusing. I take a walk in the city and attend the venue towards the competition.

DK: Who usually discusses the skate with Anna and gives advice?
SS: Mom. I just praise her.
JS: I spend much more time with Anna in the practices and the competitions than dad does, so guess she listens to my point of view more. But am certainly not the one who understands much, nor do I claim to be.

DK: Who was the last one to raise their voice on her? Hope it was a long time ago?
SS: Well, we do live together. So sometimes mom's expectations on the room cleaniness are not met. So there...

DK: It just seems that sometimes in Russia the parents are much bigger fans of the skating of music than their kids. They drag the kids to the rink, make them work hard. It's not your case at all?
JS: I don't consider the sport being a necessity and too important. It's Anna's choice. She doesn't have to prove me anything on the ice. She does it for herself on her free will.
SS: You don't need to make Anna do things. The other way around - if she thinks we might be late on the ice she becomes a little fury. No finishing the eggs, no tying your shoe laces. She is all around you, mad and kicking you out with all her limbs `come on dad! We are late, can't you understand it?!'

DK: You family is not the case of the sports inheritance from the parents to their children. I read you tried to talk Anna out from the professional skating career. Did it just happened that she likes it and wants it so much?
SS: It happened that she felt in love with figure skating and she can't be talked out of it. She needs it, she wants it and she is interested in everything - she follows the others' skates, she watches the old competitions, she remembers a huge amount of details - who skated to which music, what was the technical content, who made it, who didn't and which points they were given. She compares the podiums of different years and discusses the contents - why did they decide on that even though they could had upgraded it?

DK: Julia, when you brought Anna to the rink at the age of 3.5 together with her sister have you thought this is how it will end? With the medals and price money? When did you start being sure?
JS: We are both from the academy where the stress was always on the education, while sports were for keeping healthy. I took my kinds to the rink to keep them healthy. I did not understand where did I come. I only started to realize things after Anna switched to Tutberidze's group.
Inna, Anna's older sister began skating outdoors. She just wanted to try skating. My friend whose daughter was skating seeing how much she likes it helped to join `Khrustalny' in the middle of the year. It used to be just yet another sports school. There were no famous teachers no pupils.
A year later the very same friend convinced me to take Anna skating. We still joke - not sure whether to thank her or curse her, our normal life was never the same.

DK: Did you have to sacrify lot?
JS: First of all I had to start driving to take the kids to the practices, which I hate and the first drives were a lot of stress. Second I had to give up my work, which am still sorry about. We had to change a lot of other things so the kids could attend their practices. There was a year I still shudder recalling - the practices would begin at 6am, we would get up at 4:30am. The day off was in the middle of the week and it was a school day. The weekend - on the rink again.
Anna started skating in the same group her older sister was in, where the kids were 2 years older than her. I think it was ideal - she was looking up for them yet there was no pressure on her. There were lots of medals from the kids competitions. But yet we were not considering a sports career. It didn't even cross our mind. Before switching to Tutberidze. Anna switched to her during the Olympic season and we saw how Julia Lipnitskaya was preparing. Medvedeva had just started competing on the juniors level. Then we slowly began to realize that figure skating might be more than just sports for fun.

DK: Were there moments when you and Anna thought giving up and stopping? There were times of the injuries?
SS: If you mean her broken leg it wasn't about Anna continuing skating. After 6 weeks in plaster the leg looks weird. Those who've seen it know. It's a shapeless thing, which hardly bends, looks different from the healthy leg. Anna was 13, she was growing and we needed a lot of faith to calm down and believe the legs will become equal, that she will be able to walk without limping. It was hard. As for going back skating - that was a miracle, no less.
JS: I had some moments when I thought the sport takes the normal life away rather than gives her new opportunities. Now I changed my mind. First I see Anna indeed can't imagine her life without skating and there aren't many people who find their passion so young. Second I see it's not just a hobby but an interesting job with a lot of potential.
As for the injury - the first broken bone - the arm was hard. It was during a vacation. It seemed something that will not be fixed. The broken leg was quite an experience, but there were no thoughts of retiring. By then Anna had no room for doubt that figure skating is everything for her. EVERYTHING.

DK: Speaking of education: Anna says she is doing exams all the time now. There is an example of her favourite skater Nathan Chen who is in Yale. Would you want Anna to do the same and not become a coach? Perhaps there are her preferences you can voice?
JS: Should Anna decide that figure skating is her future life she would need the specific education. It would be weird not to get the diploma just because the faculty is not prestigious enough. But I will be thrilled if she gets several educations.
SS: I would love Anna to be able to get accepted to any university. Second - to actually get accepted. If in the end she'll decide to dedicate her life to figure skating - great. But it has to be a real choice where there are other options and not the only choice because it's the only thing she can do. Anna has a lively and active mind, she can do both the sports and the education. Nathan is indeed a great example. I saw a couple of times in Japan how during the show breaks he would open the laptop and the notebook and study. His life last season - making it everywhere means his head and his discipline are at the right place. You can only admire it.

DK: There are a lot of discussions of the longlivety in figure skating. ISU might raise the age and probably wants the careers to last for longer. Do you think it's indeed a tragedy when people retire at the age of 17 or it's an opportunity to do something else in life?
JS: Figure skating is an early age sport. The kids start practicing at the age of 3, by the age of 15 they are seniors. If you take that into an account the sport career is not that short. I agree there is nothing bad about facing new challenges and new opportunities at the age of 17-18.
SS: If Anna retires at the age of 17 I will be upset. Beside her being a quad jumper she is also an artist and depicting the characters is her strong side. At the age of 17 or even 20 there are characters that are too early to depict. It will be an unfinished song no matter how many medals she'll win by then.

DK: What do you think of this season? Did Anna achieve all she planned? Or was some competition a disappointment where she missed out just a bit?
SS: The worlds were a disappointment. The rest of the competition Anna skated quite well and we can only be happy about it.

DK: Ok the Europeans: she missed 3 points. It just happened that without the 3A Anna needed all her quads clean. Or is it a shallow explanation and the reasons are much deeper?
SS: The only thing deeper are conspiracy theories and they are not my thing. Anna skated well, the judges gave the marks. I'm just a dad who doesn't understand much in the points.
JS: I think it was a good season. The competition among the girls is so high the smallest fraction might decide. 3 points are a lot.

DK: The competition was among the Tutberidze girls who are usually called the TSCK, while Anna preferred the 3A. Did you ever have a chance to meet up as families and discuss your daughters' success?
SS: Anna doesn't like the TSCK nor 3A nor any other shortcuts. I bet nor the other girls. They spend so much time and effort to be liked. As a nice gesture the fans could spend a second of their time and type their name. Of course the shortcuts are comfortable online, but don't expect the girls to like it.

DK: The usual question: is the friendship between the rivals real? Can you say Anna is friends with Aliona and Alexandra?
SS: The whole winter they had some very active online social life in the evenings. I.e. they communicate outside the rink as well. Whether it's a friendship or not - the time will tell. But they certainly will have something to tell when the time comes - hope they use it.
JS: I'd say they are in a really good relationship. But they don't spend time outside the rink together. Anna is friends with Polina Tsurskaya, but they hardly ever competed.

DK: A couple of weeks ago the Russian figure skating was shaken by the coaching switches. There were a lot of rumours about `Khrustalny' that were not true. Was Anna offered to switch?
JS: No.

DK: Did you figure the break into Anna's social accounts? Was it a new thing or you are used to the fakes?
SS: We are used to the fakes, while breaking into is someone's dirty joke. It was obvious even by the timing that it was not Anna, no matter the content. The episode that does not deserve to be mentioned.

DK: There are a lot of talks about Tutberidze being a strict coach. But you know it better than any journalist. How do you divide who does what? After all Tutberidze is a star, did she lose it?
JS: The difference in the working process in this group is that the parents are not only allowed but welcomed to present during the practice. They think the kids work better that way. I tend to agree. The coaches need to give their attention to every kid, we focus on our kids only. Even the idiots like me begin to understand things with the time. Calculate the rotations. I think there should be a distance and the trust between the coach and the parent. It's not just words, it's a necessity. If you doubt the coach so will the kid. There will be no result.
SS: Tutberidze is a very proud and independent person. And she limits her communication. It might look as if `she lost it', but in real life it's not related to her success. Just pay attention how much time she spends on the ice, how many little kids are there in her group. No one who lost it would invest so much in the kids with no clear future. It's my point of view.
JS: Tutberidze finds the right approach to every kid. It's really interesting to watch how she works on the programmes. She dives so deep into the music, how she creates the character. Together with Gleikhengauze they find the music, think of the choreography. Then during the season it's a constant work on the programme and they add new details. They all work on the jumps - Tutberidze, Dudakov, Gleikhengauze.

DK: Have you thought of the Olympics? That all that happens now is a prelude to that? Or it's a wrong way of thinking?
JS: There are a lot of talks about the Olympics.I think it's a bit unfair that 3 years are passing with the thoughts of the Olympics and preparing to the Olympics.
SS: The sports life happens now. The GP, the main competitions, the victories, the losts. The Olympics is a special kind of a competition that happens once in 4 years and in the ladies a lot depends on which year the Olympics falls. Hence I don't share the Olympics fetish. In football or basketball it's not even the main competition. I respect the athletes who were able to build a long career and gain a name there.

DK: Is it true that you have an education in physics and software and work in online promotion?
SS: Right.

DK: As someone who works with promotion: don't you think the figure skating is behind? Perhaps you have an advice?
SS: Am more on the IT side than the commercial. There is a difference between the IT and the figure skating. Things in IT change all the time, while figure skating is very conservative and the traditions are important. There are pros and cons in every approach and the diversity is what makes it great. I can tell you what would happen if figure skating was an IT project. We would pick a test event or a series of test events and we'll try new ideas there all the time. Sane one and mad ones. The age, the quads, the scoring system ,the new programmes types, the skating of 4 people at once - all that can get us closer to the goal. What is our goal by the way?

DK: To make figure skating more popular for example.
SS: Ok. Then we will see which competition would be the most popular and youtube watches. So we have to take into an account it's new and then decide - should we expand the try out to the main event or switch to the next test. There would be 2-3 failed tests for every successful one and it's hard to predict which one would be successful. Hence in IT things change so rapidly. And it's also a reason things get stuck and don't work all the time as well. In the end the version 10 of the product usually has very little to do with the first. But if the 10th version might be competitive the 1st has no chance. Though there are things that the traditional figure skating attempting - the ISU awards for example. Am sure the ceremony and the winners would be very talked about thing.

DK: At least it's something new
SS: Am also looking forward for the for the jumping competition. And I want to see it as a team event. 4 on 4, the loser goes, 2 jumps for each, summing up the content. The deciding day, 8 teams, the semifinal, the final, just Japan and Russia are on the ice, the tension is so high! After each landing the arena is on their feet, the winners are celebrating, the flags, the tears, the flowers, the happiness and the losers. Those are the emotions figure skating lacks right now. And it would bring the new viewers, new discussions, new disagreements and millions of watchers. The team on team jumping competitions are something that is done in Tutberidze group for a while now. Now in April-May they would do it daily. It's the thing Anna talks most about in the evening - how the teams were decided, who landed what, who screwed the team, who helped. All that with faces and details and expressions. I get excited just listening! I can only imagine what it would be like for the audience.

DK: I wish her ideas went to the ISU. Can you evaluate how much it costs to fund a skater for a year? I recall Serafima Sakhanovich saying it might be around 1M rubles a year.
SS: Since Anna became a part of the national team it's close to nothing. The federation, the ministry of sports and the school Sambo70 take care of all the expenses.
JS: The practices are free. The rest depends on how much the parents are willing to invest. The extra lessons are on the private rinks. When I took my daughters skating the extra lesson was 300rubles, later became 500. The madness began after the `Ice Age' on the TV. The demand was higher than the offering and the prices went up.
When we were still in the kids group one of the moms said her husband calls us all a figure skating sect. It's kind of true - whether you want it or not at some point you give in and get into that mood and start the chase. It's enough for one crazy parent to show up who takes their kid for several extra lessons a day and you start doubting whether you are right? Is your kid not practicing enough? In our times 2 extra on ice and one extra off ice practice were enough.
Watching the practices was not allowed so we would pick through the door. Back then I understood nothing in figure skating so I could only notice the falls. Natali Tsurskaya taught me to tell the jumps one from the other when Anna started landing triples, i.e. when she was 10. But I still can mix t he flip with a toeloop or a salchow with a loop.

DK: This year was quite good for Anna financially as well. Did you have a chance to spend her money?
SS: We invest Anna's price money. We try not only to keep it, but earn. We have started the beginner investor portfolio with all the rules - some on the deposit, some in the foreign money and some in the stock. Stock is interesting now - the vaccine will be developed and it will grow. Anyway, we learn about the finances and see how the money works. It's interesting. Anna is the one to decide how much will be invested in what. She goes to the bank, understands the deposits and signs the contracts. When she talks to the clerks they are curious `How come you have that money miss?' `I earned it!'. A couple of times we guessed the stock, so the earnings were enough to upgrade to the newest mobile phone. So I asked her whether she wants to upgrade or wait a bit. She decided to wait for now.
 

starrynight

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The team on team jumping competitions are something that is done in Tutberidze group for a while now. Now in April-May they would do it daily. It's the thing Anna talks most about in the evening - how the teams were decided, who landed what, who screwed the team, who helped.

Those jumping competitions would be quite the experience for the older skaters who are being phased out and replaced by the younger ones. But an effective way of pitting all the skaters against each other. And probably very exciting for the young ones who have the quads.

This interview was an intense read. It does show the immense sacrifices whole families make for a shot at the small window of opportunity there is for Russian lady skaters.

Anna's biggest test is probably in front of her and it's going to be how she grows up in the sport. A real challenge has been laid at these girls' feet because the usual formula of smashing out wins before puberty is probably not going to work for them due to the state of the world at the moment. What was always a sprint has now been sort of turned into a marathon.
 
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Tinami Amori

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The heading of the thread's title is intentionally provocative. "Stick around" could mean at her club, or in skating in general.

HERE IS THE CORRECT TRANSLATION of the heading.

How long will Anna Shcherbakova (remain) in figure skating? A frank conversation with the parents of the Russian National FS Champion.

Надолго ли Анна Щербакова в фигурном катании? Откровенный разговор с родителями чемпионки России.
There is no issue of Anna "not sticking around with Sambo" in the original heading or a subject in the text.
The parts of the article are about "how long Anna will remain in the sport", and not even that..... it's about "her father not wanting her to leave the sport at 17".

This girl is a GEM, a diamond, on ice and off the ice. when she is ready to move on, i hope she goes to a good business school, while skating in shows for her artistry.
 
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