GENERICO.ruSport“I will never forget her support”: the secret of friendship between Zagitova and Shcherbakova

“I will never forget her support”: the secret of friendship between Zagitova and Shcherbakova

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tells the story of the friendship of two Olympic champions in figure skating.

How it all began
There is a stereotype that there is no real friendship in sports. This is due to a conflict of interests, because there is only one first place, and the initial tendency of athletes to selfishness is a necessary quality for survival in a competitive environment.

Quite often, athletes confirm this stereotype. All the more valuable are exceptions with a strong friendship connection. An example is the relationship between two Olympic champions in figure skating, Alina Zagitova and Anna Shcherbakova.

The girls have known each other since 2015, when Zagitova moved from Izhevsk to Moscow to Khrustalny, where Shcherbakova had been skating since childhood. And although Anna was the formal “veteran” of the Tutberidze group, Alina initially had a higher status compared to her. She was being prepared for the 2018 Olympics virtually in front of Shcherbakova. Even then, they gradually communicated, although they devoted all their time to training.

The first meeting at the competition, however, ended in victory for Shcherbakova. This was at the 2019 Russian Championships, where Zagitova competed after a difficult Olympic season. Anna then took out everyone, including Alexandra Trusova and Alena Kostornaya. But she was only 13 years old, so Zagitova went to the adult world championship and won it convincingly.

Support at the Olympics
Already in the next season, Alina and Anya met as part of the adult Grand Prix series, when both reached the final. It was then that it became obvious that the younger rival had truly grown. Now an equal struggle could begin between them. But soon after the unsuccessful finale, Alina Zagitova announced the suspension of her career.

From that moment on, their paths went on for some time, although close, but in different directions. Alina was mastering a new life without figure skating, Anna was moving step by step towards medals and titles.

At the 2002 Olympics, Shcherbakova, as she later admitted in an interview with Laura Dzhugelia, received the greatest support from Zagitova:


“I will never forget how she supported me. There was a difficult situation with team competitions (Anna was not accepted into the team; Kamila Valieva performed in both programs – editor's note). I do not discuss or condemn decisions; the federation made decisions in its own interests. But this does not negate the fact that it was very difficult for me personally to go through that period. At that moment, Alina wrote the day before the free program: well, An, are you performing? older friend
Alina seemed to take on the role of an older friend, with the rights of a more experienced and mature one. She helped Anya navigate the filming of “Ice Age” during the season when they were co-hosts. She came to visit Anya after surgery on her leg, supporting her during a difficult recovery period.

They go on vacation to the islands together, perform in ice shows, go to social events and have publicly emphasized their close relationship more than once. They make funny videos for social networks – for example, last year they showed them dancing and fooling around to the song “Nakolochki” by the chanson group “Vorovaiki”.

Perhaps two important conditions became a mitigating circumstance for their friendship. Firstly, the difference was two years, which practically excluded long-term head-to-head rivalry on the ice. Moreover, two years is not such a big age difference to separate interests and make friendship impossible.

Secondly, Zagitova and Shcherbakova objectively have nothing to divide. In terms of titles, they are the most successful Russian figure skaters over the past 6 years. Both have Olympic, World and European Championship gold. In general, there are no reasons for internal tension between them.

Yes, Anna Shcherbakova indirectly became the reason for the early end of Alina Zagitova’s career. But if you look at the situation more broadly, Anna was only part of a general phenomenon in figure skating, which, like an avalanche, covered all the skaters of the pre-Quad era. They are not offended by the avalanche – they are simply trying to avoid it. Alina stepped aside in time, but did it, winning everything she could.

Today, on Alina’s birthday, Anna posted a congratulatory video on social networks – on it, footage of their joint fun was edited to a funny song by rapper Eminem . It is infinitely pleasant to observe such warm relationships between the champions.

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