Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova is letting it all sink in: 'I feel an unbelievable happiness'

The 17-year-old was world champion a year ago and leapt from second to win the women single figure skating gold medal at Beijing 2022.

By Nick McCarvel
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

In the hours after her Olympic victory, figure skater Anna Shcherbakova was still letting the moment sink in.

"I haven't realised what [has] happened," the 17-year-old said of her triumph at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. "When someone calls me an Olympic champion, I can't believe they talk to me."

"It probably takes time to realise it."

The world champion a year ago, Shcherbakova became the first female skater since Yuna Kim at Vancouver 2010 to follow that title up with an Olympic gold in the year after.

She did it with impeccable skating, going from second after the short program to leap into the top position.

ROC teammate Alexandra Trusova finished with silver and Japan's Sakamoto Kaori with bronze. The short program leader, Kamila Valieva, fell to fourth after an error-strewn free skate.

The results are provisional.

Shcherbakova's impressive free skate included two quadruple flips at the start - including one in combination. The jump had given her trouble throughout the season, but she got it back right when she needed it.

Her performance matched her approach for much of the last two seasons: Measured, focused and fierce.

"From one element to another, I skated very concentrated [and] did not let myself relax for a second," she said of the long program, which she scored a 175.75 for, a personal best, to total 255.95 overall, a win by 4.22 points over second-place skater Trusova.

A gold for Shcherbakova - and her family

Shcherbakova's golden moment was the cap of a steady rise in recent years, having first won a national title at age 14 in 2018, going on to capture the silver medal at world juniors later that season.

She'd win three consecutive national titles, from December 2018-2020, but truly announce herself at the top of the sport with her victory at worlds in 2021.

It's a victory, she says, she shares with her family.

"At home they were probably more nervous than I was because I still haven't realised what happened," she said of her family, which includes two sisters.

"I want to say a big thank you to my parents and all my family, not only for supporting me here, but throughout my whole journey, since my childhood.

"Figure skating - the whole family twirls around me so a big thank you to them."

Anna's sisters - Yana and Inna - had wished her well via Olympics social media prior to the Games.

Shcherbakova: 'I cannot fully understand it yet'

Fully realising her accomplishment is something Shcherbakova thinks might be a fair ways off - and certainly not something she could grasp just after her win.

"After the skate I felt an incredible happiness that I did everything that I could today," she said. "That was my goal, as I said before, so coming off the ice I already felt that this is an unbelievable happiness that I did everything I could. After all the results were announced I didn't feel anything new because I haven't realised yet what happened. I need a bit more time to understand it."

She continued: "Right now I feel only joy and relief after my performance. When I finished I realised that I did the maximum at the right time in the right place. I managed to focus. At that moment, I felt that I had fulfilled my goal, breathed a sigh of relief."

It's the Olympic moment any skater dreams of - and Shcherbakova is living it.

"It's just the pure happiness of working for so long and being able to deliver a programme like this - at the Olympics."

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