Samokhvalov's interview with Scherbakova


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Anatoly Samokhvalov's interview with Anna Scherbakova for

Anatoly: The European champion Dima Aliev told me that as a kid he used to bump into the furniture when repeating Alexey Yagudin's `Winter' in his flat. Did your `Fire bird' fly many times during the quarantine?
Anna: Well, its' the end of the season, there are no more competitions, so there is no point working on the programme. But I did bump into things when practicing the jumps and warming up. There isn't much space in the room, but I can do some jumps with no combos. Though when I lift my leg for the `exit' I bump into things.

Anatoly: Hope no more than 3 revolutions?
Anna: 2.5 or 3. No more.

Anatoly: Have you tried a 3lz?
Anna: It's harder on the floor, you can't really take off. But i can try the 3A, which is not yet there on the ice, unlike the quads. Though I've been doing the axel on the floor for a while now, think since I was learning the triple jumps

Anatoly: I learned from your Instagram you have not yet decided on the new music. Have you discussed the general direction?
Anna: There was nothing certain, but I always want to try something new.

Anatoly: You have a reputation of a gorgeous girl on the ice. Even `The story of the murderer' was depicted by you, according to TAT `with a gentle power'. Horror and lyrics - do you like that mix?
Anna: I always care about the character am depicting and I loved this year's SP not because I could skate it with a smile or a sad face, but because I put my soul into it. I loved it, especially the steps, the moves and the emotions I showed. Some were swift and some were soft.

Anatoly: Mixing the unmixible?
Anna: Not so much unmixible, just different, that looks really unusual and cool when put together. And always develop. I have not yet shown all I can.

Anatoly: What haven't we seen yet?
Anna: Taking the programmes I did as a kid I did a lot of characters: the Indian, the Dreamcatcher... After which, by the way, I was noticed and may recall that programme. I loved it as well. The `Perfumer' his year is my first attempt for a serious story. I never yet skated a jazz or blues, I don't even know whether I will and if so - now or later.

Anatoly: Jazz or blues is quite interesting.
Anna: I mean that there are skaters who skate these styles really well, but I don't yet know whether they would suit me.

Anatoly: In order to try the said jazz, would you need to work with a different choreographer?
Anna: No, Gleikhengauz and Tutberidze made so many characters. If I didn't skate jazz yet does not mean they haven't choreographed it before.

Anatoly: Different specialists - such as Goncharenko and Slutskaya say you skated on a different level this year and progressed so much. I thought so too. Do you agree with them?
Anna: Of course we work every day. It's flattering that I progressed but it something that must happen. Most important thing I noticed this year - I became more confident at the competitions. It's my biggest achievement of the season.

Anatoly: The result of that confidence is the mix of lightness and spot on skating you managed the second part of the season?
Anna: Being more confident and focused meant I was able to be more focused on the programme -not just the jumps, but what is between them

Anatoly: It seemed to me during the time between the Lombardia trophy till the nationals you became a senior skater rather than a junior.
Anna: Lombardia trophy was my first competition of the season, with the easier content and more nerves, not yet polished programme. The nationals was the toughest competition of the season - with the top content and that drive - thanks to the combination of the well performed jumps and the confidence made the programme look good.

Anatoly: And the things between the elements, the well performed transitions.
Anna: Yes, I felt all worked for me that skate and I can show what I worked on. The drive, the mood, the adrenaline - it all helped between the jumps.

Anatoly: You always get the crowd's support on your quad lutz, but then in December TAT was in awe of your spin.
Anna: That is something I would scorn myself for. I did not hold the final spin with the Bielmann position till the end at the nationals. I can't say I lost focus because the whole skate I was super focused, but if I was given a chance I would redo that spin.

Anatoly: I was told your first victory at the nationals in Saransk was a big celebration for the whole `Khrustalny' rink - it was overcoming after a serious injury, after failed competitions. did you feel that gold, where you beat not only Kostornaya and Trusova but also Zagitova and Medvedeva was so important?
Anna: I still can't understand that gold. I was going to the nationals not understanding what my goal was. Prior to that I failed at the JGPF (Anna became 5th) and in Saransk my main goal was to overcome myself and skate to the best. And only from time to time I let the thought `it would be nice to make it to the team, i.e be top 6' get to me. I skated well the SP - I was 5th. I was satisfied and thought the mean while result was good and I had a chance to remain top 6. The thoughts I might be on the podium or even win didn't cross my mind. I didn't think so after the LP skate. I slowly understood the medal is getting closer when watching the others' skates. `Am still holding there' - the thought that surprised me. `Am still holding there' I thought seeing the table after each skate. When I got the gold medal the main feeling was of overcoming. I overcame myself.

Anatoly: Are you familiar with the psychology of the winner?
Anna: There was no additional pressure nor understanding I can win. After Lombardia Trophy and the GP series and the technical boost I had a feeling I could win not because someone made mistakes, but it's in my hands. Am glad that confidence remained with me till the end of the season. And am thrilled because just a year ago I still had that feeling I was chasing after someone, trying to get to them and remaining behind. I was never confident enough during the competitions and thought I was not better than the others. But the nationals in December 2018 was the breaking point. It took me a while to understand it. I was asking myself: why there were failures that were not supposed to happen? Why am I more nervous today than I was yesterday?

Anatoly: You were chasing the others after a severe injury, but before that you were the top skater at your age. The whole world back then was in awe not of the quads yet but the 3-3-3 combo that Medvedeva landed. In the junior team it was Anna Scherbakova who did the said 3-3-3.
Anna: It was during my failures I was recalling that time and telling myself: I used to go out there and show all I can and it's what it should be. After the recovery I saw the others jumping but I couldn't do that myself. It made me feel weaker than the others. I spent a lot of time to dismiss that feeling.

Anatoly: Every athlete has a moment when they tell themselves `I did it!'. When did you say that?
Anna: I haven't really, but there were moments of happiness and overcoming. First - when after the injury I came to a local competition and finally skated a clean programme. I was so glad. Then it took time, but there was not a competition after which I said `Yes, I did it' because this season there was no final competition. The whole season I was skating with the thought it's just the beginning and the main competitions are yet to come. After each competition I would switch to think of the next competition. Hence I miss the final point.

Anatoly: Which could only be the Worlds?
Anna: In this case yes. If we were told before the Europeans that would be the last competition we probably would have done things differently. The preparations and the mood would be different. But we knew the main competition is still ahead of us. At least I still don't have a feeling the season had ended.

Anatoly: But the main competition is the Olympics. Is it mentally in your head?
Anna: Generally yes, but not really. It's weird imagining your work when thinking of something that will happen in a year or two. I live today, I go out for a training, do the elements and I can't think it's for 2 years from now. The Olympics is too far away and it's easier for me to think of something that will be, say, in a month.

Anatoly: When the news from the WADA and the IOC come threatening not to let our athletes to the Olympics - how does it make you feel?
Anna: For me personally - I still have a lot to do in order to even make it to the team. Of course it's scary, I always want to believe the best, that there will be no sanctions.

Anatoly: How did you take Valieva's gold in the JGPF, which she took after the injury, beating Alisa Liu, whoc has a 4lz?
Anna: I saw how Kamilla was recovering and I know how hard it is, so I was really glad for her. Frankly, I did not believe with Alissa's clean skate that will be the result. But Alissa made some mistakes, so Kamilla won fairly.

Anatoly: How can one recover so fast?
Anna: In my case it was not fast, and it seemed endless back then. I did not skate at all for 3 months, when I came back on the ice I was not allowed to jump for a while. I didn't have any international competitions scheduled, so I took the recovery easy. Kamilla, on the other hand, had a JGPF scheduled.

Anatoly: Your favourite Nathan Chen also broke a bone at the exhibition, which made his coach Aratyunian quite unhappy.
Anna: I heard about it. But I was not doing a super jump - it just happened after the summer vacation, which is the hardest time for me. It takes me a long time to get back into the programmes and the coaches know it. They don't speed me up, but remind me I have to work hard in order to get back in shape for the season. That was the reason I only did one quad in September test skates.

Anatoly: You are speech is great. As if you did some TV courses.
Anna: I can't really answer that, I never worked on my speech. My favourite subject in the school is Russian. Perhaps that's the reason?

Anatoly: You don't even use the `it's like you know' nor slang. A true Russian language.
Anna: Am often told that, but when I watch my interviews there are a lot of things I dislike. For example in one of them I told `actually' too many times. Seriously! If you cut out all my `actually' it would be a separate video!

Anatoly: Do you imagine yourself working on the TV?
Anna: No.

Anatoly: Speaking of the speech. I saw the `Cosmo' title for Alina's interview `I don't owe anyone anything anymore'. There is a different way to say the same `I proved it all'. That's what the experienced athletes and sometimes coaches are saying. When do you think the person can say that?
Anna: Guess in Alina's case. The moment you understand you won all the possible competitions and there is not a single one left where you haven't proven that you are the best. If the athlete still has a competition they haven't won it makes you want to change things. But think indeed, if you won all the competitions you can say you owe nothing to anyone.

Anatoly: Do you count your victories?
Anna: Not so much. I can't say how many I won. But some are very important, I remember them and keep them within. The victories are about how I got there, what was the price, not a V in the list.

Anatoly: The nationals are the first?
Anna: Of course. Last season and this season I had my best skates at the nationals.

Anatoly: Do you think the nationals are harder than the worlds, which you haven't participated yet?
Anna: A tough question. There are so many great skaters in Russia and only 3 make it to the team. If you are not top 3 you won't get to the Worlds. But then there are great skaters at the Worlds which I didn't even have a chance to compete against during the season, hence I can't compare. I would love to compete at the Worlds - it would be the most important competition for me. I guess the level of nerves there is higher because you understand how important it is.

Anatoly: When the news about the worlds cancellation came I contacted Lakernik, who was quite upset. AT that moment what prevailed - making it to the flight to Montreal or worrying about your health?
Anna: The day the worlds were cancelled was our day off. So the season ended in our day off, which was even more weird. The news it might be cancelled I saw about an hour before the official announcement. It came out earlier, but I only learned it in the evening. I didn't have to wait for long. I thought it was not true. The fake news. Then I started reading different news and realized it's indeed true. Inside I still hoped it will not be cancelled. I was sure we would go anyway. At that moment I didn't yet know how serious it was. There were no cases in Russia yet, so when I was told there will be no championship in March I didn't understand what happened. I couldn't believe it. I spent the evening just sitting and then went to sleep but couldn't. I just lay the whole night and thought. There was no sadness, just a thought `How come? I was preparing! I was supposed to train tomorrow. Skate the programmes. Polish the elements. And then fly to Canada soon'. In the morning I didn't understand anything. I went to the practice but we didn't have to skate the prorammes, we just did the jumps. And then it hit me. For a couple of days I was out of it. I lived through, it's behind me and I understand how now how serious it is and the health is more important.

Anatoly: How does it feel knowing you missed an almost certain medal?
Anna: The preparations were tough. After the Europeans I was down in my shape. There was a serious lack of coordination which. I think, never happened to me before. We worked a lot to get it all back and be in top shape for the Worlds. I felt that I was overcoming again, but am getting back to shape, I improve and in several days before the departure that never happened I was indeed on the top of my shape. I was jumping and landing it all! It was a shame. But now I have even more will to fight the next season. I don't dwell in missing out.

Anatoly: I remember in Graz when you, Aliona and Alexandra won all the medals all the talks were about how out of shape you all were and all the after New Year's problems.
Anna: Perhaps I was not on the top of my shape after the winter vacation, but it's not what happened after. The skate at the Europeans was hard mentally and physically but it was not bad. There were things to improve, but I was almost satisfied with myself - I got my flip together after the first combo. Despite it being underotated it was a step forward. After Graz I think I will be more confident with that jump. And then we were back to Moscow and I started breaking the new boots. Then when we were working on the programmes I don't know what happened. The jumps were coming out hard. Or not coming out at all. The coaches worked so much with me, I was in a weird state. Every day I thought what have I done wrong. But we overcame it all. It didn't happen for no reason. It's an experience. But the Worlds didn't happen. `It's not the end, the most important is yet to come' it's the thought we lived the whole season and were reminding ourselves after every competition. Now that feeling is gone, but I still don't feel the season is over.

Anatoly: In Russia many think it's better cancelling the worlds altogether rather than holding it at the end of October.
Anna: I read a lot about it. First I thought it's the best thing - to hold it, no matter when. I thought I would be ready and glad to participate it. When I read the point of view cancelling it I thought `How can you say that if I'm the athlete and I'm ready! I'll go!' But some time have passed and may started saying moving it is a weird thing and I start thinking well, what would it be like? Am not yet certain what I think about it. Just that I want to skate there so badly that I thought I'd do that at any moment any place. But if the Worlds will be held at the beginning of the season it will indeed be weird.

Anatoly: Those who say so are the coaches, ex skaters, businessmen. They are not the ones who missed out on the medals.
Anna: The thing is that by March we were done with the preparations, but if you move it to some other time it's not clear how to prepare. I need a lot of time and effort to get into the shape. But it's not really up to me. If I will be told to go I will gladly go. If it will be cancelled - it will not be the end of the world and I'll get prepared to the enxt competitions.

Anatoly: Imagine there will be test skates at the end of September and then the GP in October, then the Worlds, then the GPF in February, the nationals, then the new programmes, the Europeans and the Worlds. Will you endure that?
Anna: The new programmes for the worlds will not happen. It takes time to polish them and they become the best by the end of the season, it's not something you can just do in a moment. It's a serious thing. Will I endure it? In theory who knows, but I'll have to try to find out.

Anatoly: Now the figure skating world is divided between those who want to raise the age and those who are against. Do you care?
Anna: I care about all the figure skating news. I am an athlete and talking about the rules would be wrong. I compete by the rules that were decided upon a while ago and no one changed them for me. It is what it is and we work accordingly.

Anatoly: Can you imagine the worst case that you would have to skate juniors still?
Anna: It would be hard - am a senior.

Anatoly: Aratyuniana is for that, but it's deeper. He says `I don't want the girls to retire at the age of 17 because there are younger skaters'. Do you need that longevity in the sports or you have other things in life?
Anna: I can't imagine the end of my career. I certainly have a lot to say in figure skating. I think you should retire when you feel you've done all you wanted to do. When I stop understanding why do i come to the practice - then it will be the time to retire. Otherwise why overcome yourself if you don't enjoy it and don't need it? As long as there is motivation and health you should go on. There is no certain age when you have to retire. If you can - skate till the age of 30. In our country it's hard because of the high level competition. If you are not on the top you will not make it to the main competitions. In other countries it's easier, you don't have to show the best and still participate the Europeans/Worlds/Olympics. It decides a lot as well.

Anatoly: You have a mindblowing technical level. The 4lz and 4flip - that's a point where the others can go home. Do you think the skater who has just the triples or just a quad Toeloop or Salchow is competitive against you? Is it possible to balance?
Anna: Let's start with saying landing the quad toeloop or salchow is a very high level. If someone can land two quads their technical level is very high. As for those who land the triples only - it's all about the math with the current rules. The quad costs more, but the odds to make mistake are higher. AI learned the quads but I can't say they are easy to execute. If I have the quads in my programme it does not mean I will win easily. In order to land the quad at the competition I have to try is thousands of times at the practices and fall as many times. Only then something might work. For example last year I had a lot of competitions in which I lost more points attempting the quads than earned. In the GPF I fell from two 4lz and my quad cost as much as a double at the best.

Anatoly: I asked Gleikhengauze in Graz whether it's possible to integrate a 3A in Trusova's LP, for which he replied there is no place for it with her 5 quads.
Anna: In the LP - yes, but in the SP the 3A gives a huge advantage, hence it's a necessary element and I realize it.

Anatoly: How many quads can you squeeze into your LP and keep the balance?
Anna: It's hard without losing some balance. But that's what we are working on. When I go into the quad I sometimes think `oh, hell with all these steps, I just need to speed up!' but the coaches watch me all the time and tell me. But imagine: it's the end of the practice, the LP, I attempt for the 3rd quad. The only thought is `just land it... I'll just speed up... kick out a couple of steps...' but the coaches give me a sign and do not allow me to make it easier. The quads are important, but in the practice you have to work on all the complicated entrances so during the competition it will not cross your mind to give up some steps.

Anatoly: To have your muscles remember it all.
Anna: Yes. This is what you work on in the practices.

Anatoly: It's common to think the childhood ends at the age of 16. Some even cry. Did you feel it on March 28th?
Anna: What a fun thing to discuss taking it was under the quarantine. Thanks my family, who made that day special. I woke up and saw the balloons and presents. Everyone congratulated me. I felt it was a special day, though I can't say I felt anything lie `16! you are an adult!'. There were no real changes.

Anatoly: What you were not allowed to do before the age of 16 and allowed now?
Anna: I was trying to figure it as well, but seems that nothing. I do exactly what I did before. Being 16 did not give me special possibilities.

Anatoly: You seemed very mature before. Without much of your parents supervision.
Anna: My parents trust me and it's important. They do help me, but I become more independent. `16 y.o.' sounds more mature, perhaps I became more mature, but really all remained the same simply because am now home all the time.

Anatoly: What is it like the birthday in the quarantine?
Anna: It's a family celebration. The presents opening, then the breakfast. We are in the summer house with the whole family now - my aunt and my cousin are here as well. We played some football outdoors, if you can call that a something to do. In the evening we met for the board games. I also made a joke in instagram that am waiting for the guests so I could later upload the photos of all my pets, who I photograph all the time and have a whole collection.

Anatoly: Many consider the isolation as a place to come up with the new ideas and learn something about yourself. What have you learned?
Anna: I started shooting some videos of the home training and learned to produce them. Cut them, put the music, speed them up. It's interesting, I plan on developing it. Perhaps I'll do something fun. There are some ideas.

Anatoly: A lot of people upload the home trainings now. Do you follow anyone?
Anna: I thought for a while that perhaps I lack something and I should add something. I watched a lot but came to a conclusion there is no magical move. You always want to find something new, which will guarantee you would be in the top shape. But it all already exists and I doubt I'll come up with a new move.

Anatoly: With your success came the life on the heads of the journals. Do like such photosessions?
Anna: It's a new experience which I like. But I understand it's a hard work. You come, you spend the whole day on the photos and you don't always get to do things the way you like it. It happens that one photo takes a while. You are tired, but you have to make a `natural' face, as if you just showed up here by chance. It doesn't happen a lot to me, hence I like it. But it's especially satisfying when you see the result - the gorgeous photos to keep.

Anatoly: If you, Alyona and Alexandra dominate for another season the TSCHK will become a brand. Like Spice Girls. Have you ever imagined being a singer or a part of a band?
Anna: Am not much of a singer. I think I do have some musical hearing, but not really a voice.

Anatoly: Perhaps you need some voice lessons?
Anna: Perhaps. But some do it naturally.I don't have it.

Anatoly: Who is the best singer in your group?
Anna: A good question. We don't have anyone who walks and sings all the time. If you put a known melody everyone will humm.

Anatoly: Which song would you like to learn to sing?
Anna: My musical taste changes all the time. I hear a song, love it, listen to it in the loops and then I get enough of it and find a new one. For example I like Sia's track that Wakaba Higuchi uses for her LP.

Anatoly: Ok, we covered the singing, but the off ice dancing you do with Zhelezniakov are great. Have you ever considered dancing in a ballet or in some contemporary French company?
Anna: I never thought so far, but I love dancing, because when dancing you can change the character, move in the different styles. When I was a kid I was working with a choreographer Julia Karasinskaya, who was not so much teaching us the dances, but how to move each part of the body separately. We were moving just the body and so on. It's very important, because once you become older you feel the parts of your body better and can learn different styles. I think it helps me a lot now.

Anatoly: Was it before you switched to Tutberdize at the age of 9?
Anna: Yes, it was when I was training in `Khrustalny' with Oksana Bulycheva

Anatoly: What dancing style do you prefer?
Anna: The lyrical. Though I like things like hip hop and some other things.

Anatoly: Chen's hip hop this season was really cool
Anna: Oh yes! I was really impressed. It's so unusual for figure skating and he executes it so well while combining it with the really high technical content. I did not expect the LP with such a technical content could be so cool.

Anatoly: Did anyone raise hand and said `Gleikhengauze, I'd like the hip hop'
Anna: I haven't noticed any of the girls really wanting doing the hip hop on the ice. It's really tough to execute in a way that it'll seem so cool.

Anatoly: It's for the guys?
Anna: Of course there girls who dance it great, but it's hard combining in figure skating.

Anatoly: TSchK or tripleA?
Anna: We don't like the TSchK at all. The Triple A looks funny. When I first saw it I thought it was about the 3A and didn't understand what is it about. I don't know but certainly not TSchK.

Anatoly: When the success comes there are new friends and `friends'. Did it happen to you?
Anna: Not really. We spend all the time on the ice with our friends. There were some messages and the congratulations from the school, but it was because my classmates didn't know what I was doing and then they suddenly found out. It was nice.

Anatoly: You seldom attend the school in Sambo 70...
Anna: I don't attend Sambo 70, I study in a regular school. For a while my classmates thought I was just skipping the lessons.

Anatoly: When you came were you greeted with `Anna, was that yuo?'
Anna: That's pretty much how I was greeted after the first Nationals. That was the moment a lot of teachers and schoolkids learned about me.

Anatoly: When I spend time with my friends who are not related to sports sometimes am asked `Oh, so have you met Guberniev?'. What are you asked?
Anna: I think one girl asked me is it true that am in Tutberidze's group. I come to the school and run away fast - I submit the assignments, get the new ones and off to the practice. I don't really have time to sit down and chat.

Anatoly: who are your role models? For Hanyu it's Pluschenko, for Zagitova- Alika Kabaeva, for Ilinykh - Frida.
Anna: I watched a lot of Mao Asada programmes since I was little and I understand how beautifully she skated while performing the 3A at the time no one did such elements. It inspired me. Doing the axel off the ice takes a while and am upset I can't train right now because it's the best time to work on that 3A. Am in a great shape, there are no competitions, it's the end of the season. The odds to learn a new jump now are the highest. But I understand I have to stay home for now.


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Anatoly: You are speech is great. As if you did some TV courses.
Anna: I can't really answer that, I never worked on my speech. My favourite subject in the school is Russian. Perhaps that's the reason?

Anatoly: You don't even use the `it's like you know' nor slang. A true Russian language.
Anna: Am often told that, but when I watch my interviews there are a lot of things I dislike. For example in one of them I told `actually' too many times. Seriously! If you cut out all my `actually' it would be a separate video!
Anna also refrained from starting every sentence with so. (y)

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