Experts that Anna Shcherbakova is considering a return to sports have been arguing for a week. Ilya Averbukh confirmed that in a conversation with him, the figure skater was thinking of returning, and Maxim Trankov noted that she was at the training ground and was serious about the training process.
But immediately after that, a number of Shcherbakova’s performances were canceled, and then there was news that Anna had interrupted training at the training ground in Novogorsk. Some fans of figure skating have already rushed to attribute everything to the fact that the Olympic champion will not return to any sport and this is all a performance, but is it really so?
Shcherbakova’s return to competition is necessary for our sport for several reasons. And the athlete herself has at least one reason to return to performing in a non-show format.
Banner in support of Anna Shcherbakova in the Eteri Tutberidze program
Photo: Dmitry Golubovich, Championship
Can our female singles run out of star skaters?
Women’s singles remains the most popular type of figure skating in our country to this day, when athletes can only compete in national competitions.
The new season needs big headliners, and the more the merrier. Sofya Akatieva and Adelia Petrosyan, the new generation of Eteri Tutberidze students, have yet to acquire the same large fan base as their older colleagues.
No one can say for sure what the next season will be for Kamila Valieva.
Test skates of the Russian national team are scheduled for September 16-17, CAS meetings on the figure skater doping case are scheduled for September 26-29. The Russian Grand Prix series starts in a month, at the end of October. Making a decision, a possible appeal – all this will take time, so it is impossible to predict how the season will turn out for Camila and whether she will perform.
Alexandra Trusova is actively preparing for the season as part of Svetlana Sokolovskaya’s group, videos appeared on the network of how the figure skater jumps even the Lutz-Rittberger waterfall at the training ground in Yerevan. But while fans wait, no specific news has yet been announced regarding the setup of the shows and the figure skater’s intentions.
Shcherbakova’s possible return to competitions will be a bright event and, of course, will arouse the interest of spectators in the national starts.
Alexandra Trusova, Kamila Valieva, Anna Shcherbakova at the Russian Championship – 2022
Photo: Alexander Safonov, “Championship”
Shcherbakova may face a quota battle
If in the 2023/2024 season Russian athletes still manage to reach at least a few international starts, then the team will be faced with the task of returning the dues. Last season, it seemed that only one figure skater was suitable for this role – Elizaveta Tuktamysheva.
If Anna Shcherbakova can get in good shape and come up with stable performances, then she can also be safely sent for quota return in women’s singles. As of July 3, 2023, Shcherbakova is ranked 16th in the ISU ranking, she is the best among Russian athletes on this list. Behind Shcherbakova’s back are the titles of world champion and Olympic champion in individual ranking, she also appeared among the top 3 nominees for the ISU Skating Awards “Most Valuable Skater” when our athletes were already under an international ban.
They all leave, but she stays. Why exactly will Tuktamysheva revive our figure after the ban?
Now Shcherbakova is extremely careful about her health and takes care of herself. Last year, the figure skater was very active in the summer shows, despite her health problems: after completing the tour, she went to Germany, where she underwent knee surgery.
This year, Anya initially announced a smaller number of summer shows than Kamila Valieva and Alina Zagitova. At the same time, the figure skater interrupted training in Novogorsk for medical reasons and refused upcoming performances on Moscow Sports Day and at Tatiana Navka’s show in Sochi. According to RIA Novosti, there is no talk of injuries, so the skater is most likely just playing it safe.
Our champions are hot! Valieva, Shcherbakova and Zagitova will skate two shows in one night
Shcherbakova’s main motivation is not money or titles
Experts who do not believe in Shcherbakova’s return to competition mainly point to the fact that Anna has already won all her major victories and she simply will not have the motivation to compete anymore, especially in the absence of international performances. But what helped the figure skater throughout her career?
Here is what Eteri Tutberidze said about Anna in the winter of 2020 in an interview with TVAsahi: “She just loves figure skating. She is driven by love. We can already say that she went through great trials, and only if her love helped her overcome them. She had a terrible fracture, some don’t come back to any sport at all, but to come back, they go to quadruple jumps… her family supported this. She is driven by love, love for figure skating, love for this business.
Over the past year, Shcherbakova has tried a lot of new things: she became the presenter of a television project, trained children in master classes, plunged into her studies at the university, but figure skating still evokes the same emotions in her. Remember at least how the skater was very happy about the return of the 3-3 cascade: at the show in Moscow, in the complex Dangerous Affairs program, Anna performed a flip toe loop, and then shared her experiences in the mixed zone.
Why did Alena Leonova skate for a long time? Why is Elizaveta Tuktamysheva still competing? Both single skaters emphasized that they just enjoy doing what they love, it’s not that hard to continue if you do what you love. And there is no doubt that Anya loves figure skating.
The great figure skaters of the past few years, Kim Yu Na, Mao Asada, skipped the season after their big wins and came back. The legendary Korean already had Olympic gold under her belt when she missed the season and she returned to podium again at the Games. Asada, always an inspiration to Shcherbakova, missed a year after the Sochi Olympics and had no big wins after her return, but she continued to break standing ovations with her performances.
Ending on a peak, on a winning note, is beautiful. And there will be no doubt for Anya if she does not go into the season, realizing that her health will not allow her to perform stably and deploy both programs at a high level. But the ability to do the opposite, when most of the people around you no longer believe in you, is her superpower.
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The opposite opinion on the return of Shcherbakova:
Do you really think Shcherbakova will come back? it is funny