Anna Khnychenkova; from singles to pairs to singles

Februari 21, 2018
By Oxana Shkrebtienko (LMDJ)
Photos © Oxana Shkrebtienko (LMDJ)

Twenty-three year old Anna's sporting career is not easy or straightforward. She started as a single skater and in 2008 she switched to pair skating with Sergei Kulbach for Ukraine. In 2009 Anna Khnychenkova and Márk Magyar decided to compete together for Hungary. In 2011 her partner was seriously injured and retired from the sport. Anna returned to Ukraine and rejoined her first coach Viacheslav Tkachenko in Dnipro. Since then she has competed as a single skater again.
At the Nebelhorn Trophy in 2017, the final qualifying opportunity for the 2018 Winter Olympics, she finished 7th overall and earned a spot for Ukraine at the Olympics.

Anna gave this interview after her short program at the European Championships in Moscow.

Anna, you had a successful performance of your short program today. Are you satisfied with your skating?

In general, I skated well, but I made a mistake in the combination, so the score is not very high today, 51.84, which is 6 points below my season's best, just due to this mistake.

What is your goal for this competition?

This competition for me is the last representation before the Olympics. My goal is to skate with dignity, to take maximum risk and, if possible, to skate both programs cleanly.

How did it work out in the short program?

With the exception of the combination, everything was successful; level 4 spins, and the steps, in my opinion, were also not bad. We worked very hard to improve the scores for components.

The audience really liked your program, judging by the applause. Did you feel the support of the spectators?

Yes, the audience here is wonderful, the spectators support each skater, and it inspires us to perform the program more emotionally, with passion. I was very pleased to feel such support!

How was the preparation for the European Championships, since at the national championships you did not have the best skate?

Yes, I failed at the Ukrainian Championship. But on the contrary, it stimulated me to prepare even harder for the Europeans. So, the training took place in normal mode, I have no questions or complaints of my team, everything was in order. I'm training in my home city Dnipro, with my coach Viacheslav Tkachenko.

Please tell us about your programs. As it is an Olympic season, what is the difference between the programs this season from the previous ones?

Yes, indeed, I'd like to have stronger performances for the Olympics. The idea to create the short program  to Latina music "Sorongo and Street Passions" was suggested by my coach. We had been thinking for a long time and finally decided to use it. And my free program is to the music "California Dreamin'" from last year. We chose a more neutral theme, because there are a lot of difficult elements in the free program. I need to be focused on them without being distracted by the music. Therefore, in the short we focused on the choreography, and in the free, we focused on the technical part, with the maximum concentration on the elements.

During your sports career you had to change discipline twice. First you performed in singles, then in pairs, and then again in singles. In which discipline is it harder to skate?

In my experience it is more difficult to skate in pairs, you are responsible not only for yourself, but also for your partner. That is, twice as much responsibility. Single skating is a little bit easier in this regard. But on the other hand, in a pair you always have your partner's support. As a single skater you go on the ice absolutely alone and have to cope with your emotions. That is, personally for me, easier emotionally, but more difficult technically in pairs.

And how difficult is it to switch from one discipline to another?

It was difficult, but I did it, and I'm very happy about it. There are many elements in pairs that don't exist in single skating. At the same time, some elements in pair skating are easier to perform, for example, in spins a boy can't hold his leg as high as a girl or twist his body the same way. And steps in pairs are much easier. When I returned to singles, I almost had to learn everything again - the steps, the spins in difficult positions. I was helped by the fact that I was always good at jumping, so after my partner ended his career due to an injury, I decided to continue in singles.

For any athlete, competing at the Olympics is the peak of his or her career, the ultimate goal in an athlete's life. What do you feel while preparing to represent your country in Korea? What does this mean for you?

It's impossible to describe in words! Now, when this goal is so close, I am enraptured, happy that I'm finally go to the Olympics. I will see this sporting history with my own eyes, and will be one of the participants! I am very proud and happy to represent my country! Not just to be there and to watch the competitions, but to compete. The hardest thing for me was to get a license. It was the purpose of my life, and I've almost achieved it, the license was obtained. Now I only need to go there and perform well.

What are your plans for the future, after the Olympics?

After the Olympics, I'm going to participate in the World Championship in Milan. I study in the fifth form in the Institute of Sport. My immediate plans are to graduate at the institute. And then we'll see. At the moment, I don't want to look ahead, we'll do it step by step.

After skating the short program Anna unfortunately ended up in the penultimate place at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and will not advance to the free skate. From the three required jumps in the short program she performed only one. Nerves?

Until the end of the program, I did not understand why I fell. Apparently, there was not enough confidence, because for me these are the first Olympics. The Games are always an exciting event, special competitions with a considerable attention, attracted to it. Therefore it was psychologically difficult to control myself. But no matter what, like any athlete, I must execute the program to the end with drive, which I tried to do. In general, it was easy to skate, I enjoyed to perform here, except for the jumps

Being her first Olympics this will be a good experience under her belt. I am happy she did enjoy her skate and I hope she had a pleasant experience at these Games in Korea in general. Last but not least, Anna, I wish you successful performances at the World Championships in Milan!


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