Anna Shcherbakova feels ‘emptiness’ after figure skating gold

(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

After winning the gold medal in Olympic figure skating, Anna Shcherbakova spoke to the duality of emotions she felt after the free skate portion of the event.

“It’s hard to tell. I have mixed feelings—I was very happy to be in the right time and the right place,“ the 17-year-old said. “This has been what I’ve been working toward everyday. I still can’t comprehend what has happened—on one hand, I feel this emptiness inside.”

The reigning world champion and the first senior woman to land a quad lutz in competition in 2019, Shcherbakova was not the gold-medal favorite leading up to the Olympics. Instead, it was Kamila Valieva who was seen as the skater to beat.

During the Olympics, it was revealed that Valieva had tested positive for a banned substance in December. Valieva was later allowed to skate, a decision which drew criticism from both fellow athletes and commentators.

The resulting uproar seemed to get to the 15-year-old, as she skated a mistake-filled free skate and finished fourth. Following her skate, the coach of all three Olympic Russian skaters, Eteri Tutberidze, could be heard saying, “Why did you let it go? Why did you stop fighting?”

IOC president Thomas Bach has since criticized the “tremendous coldness” that was directed toward Valieva from her team.

As Russian officials seemingly criticized Valieva and had to comfort second-place finisher Alexandra Trusova – whose outcry over not winning gold could also be heard on camera – Shcherbakova was left to celebrate winning gold alone.

“After I skated, I thought I had skated to my maximum and I skated to my goal,” she later said. “During Kamila’s [free skate], I was just thinking the Olympics are done. I saw from her first jump what a burden it was for her—I will tell her how I feel about it personally later.”

She then added that she felt she needed some time “to be alone just to sit in a quiet room just to ponder and think back and remember what happened and what I have achieved.”

“I’m not really here, frankly,” she said, while also declining to talk more about the situation surrounding Valieva.