Alena Kostornaia and Georgi Kunitsa: “I was so eager to showcase myself, to show what we’ve accomplished… Actually, back then, I didn’t quite understand what the scores in pair skating were based on and 68 seemed a nightmare.”

Posted on 2024-02-07 • No comments yet


Translation of the interview with Alena Kostornaia and Georgi Kunitsa.

original source: Championat

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Here’s a translation of the interview with Alena Kostornaia and Georgi Kunitsa made in a podcast hosted by former Russian ice dancer Ekaterina Bobrova and sports journalist Andrei Zhurankov.

About the proposal in the hot air balloon

Andrei Zhurankov: What’s the most unexpected gift you’ve given each other?

Georgi Kunitsa: A ring.

Ekaterina Bobrova: Was it really unexpected?

Alena Kostornaia: It was very expected! I needed something from his bag, I reached for it, and he started pushing it away and running. I was like, something’s fishy here (laughs).

Andrei Zhurankov: The surprise didn’t quite make it to the surprise?

Georgi Kunitsa: I think she had an inkling when we were going on the hot air balloon.

Alena Kostornaia: I’m afraid of flying and afraid of confined spaces! A hot air balloon is all in one.

Andrei Zhurankov: Gosha, did you know about this?

Alena Kostornaia: Yes!

Georgi Kunitsa: But I had no way out (laughs).

Ekaterina Bobrova: I heard that proposing in a hot air balloon is very dangerous. It’s beautiful, incredible, but what if the girl says no? Then what? You have to fly silently in a confined space for an hour until you land, because there’s nowhere to escape. Were you afraid of such an outcome?

Georgi Kunitsa: Some people told me that too: if she says no, will you silently fly down or just jump out? I was scared, honestly. But in the end, it turned out fine.

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About the return of the “Angel” program

Alena Kostornaia: In the short program “Angel,” which we’re working on now, some movements are almost identical to the previous version. But we’re doing everything together — I choreographed it all: all the steps, step sequences. I was greatly helped by Betina [Popova] in this, she monitored the blocks, if I messed up, she adjusted Gosha, put some elements for him — two heads are better than one. But this is practically my project.

Ekaterina Bobrova: Whose idea was this?

Georgi Kunitsa: We were pushed a little.

Alena Kostornaia: At our last Grand Prix stage, we skated a routine to the music of another pair — it was Experience by Ludovico Einaudi in a modern arrangement. And we’re skating — it seemed like steps from “Crazy in Love,” but it just fit the music! I’m skating and thinking: we need to skate more calmly, or people might think something. And I say, “Damn, Betina, we were skating and…” And she’s like, “Yeah, I noticed too.” I say, “Let’s try to change it.” And I couldn’t find any more beautiful melodies. I didn’t want to use all of the music from “Angel,” and it would have been wrong.

Georgi Kunitsa: But the program is still completely different.

Alena Kostornaia: There are some gimmicks, like the beginning, to catch people’s attention. And I couldn’t find any more beautiful melodies. It’s Einaudi, but not all, since skaters have skated to it so many times, there’s no point in using it. And Richter was only skated by me and maybe two other people.

Ekaterina Bobrova: When I heard this news, my first thought was: this is a brilliant idea! Everyone knows your “Angel,” and I thought from a positive perspective that now there will be a cool continuation of the story. The only thing I didn’t understand is why it had to be done so abruptly before the Russian Nationals, but that’s your business of course.

Alena Kostornaia: Because when people go to the Russian Natioals aiming to win, knowing they’ll be contenders for medals… But when you go… Well, not as the 20th substitute (laughs), okay, you made it to top-12, but there wasn’t much to lose, so why not?

Ekaterina Bobrova: Maybe hold onto the idea for the next season?

Alena Kostornaia: We were working on “Crazy in Love” since March and it didn’t quite grow into it. Firstly, the music is difficult in itself.

Andrei Zhurankov: I thought you could express any music.

Alena Kostornaia: I can, but since we skate as a pair, we need to show different emotions. We were still showing emotions like “I’m going for the element” and “look, I’m beautiful”. We couldn’t fully develop the characters. Maybe we’ll manage it at some point, when we’re no longer chasing elements. So, the decision was made that this classic would look more harmonious.

Ekaterina Bobrova: The second thought that crossed my mind was: why? Everyone will still compare. Weren’t there any fears?

Georgi Kunitsa: Many people talked to us about it.

Alena Kostornaia: But I thought we should give this music a chance. Sometimes it’s easier to give people what they want than to try to say “No, I’m right, believe me,” so that in case of failure they would say, “We made it up ourselves, we were waiting for it.”

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About the judging scandal in Omsk

Andrei Zhurankov: Have you changed during these three months of performances?

Alena Kostornaia: I just calmed down about certain things. I hadn’t been to competitions for a long time, wanted to come out and immediately show: look at me! And then I realized that it probably wouldn’t work out like that, I’d have to wait a little.

Andrei Zhurankov: So, the interview in Omsk relates to that period when you wanted to show yourself?

Alena Kostornaia: I was so eager to showcase myself, to show what we’ve accomplished… Actually, back then, I didn’t quite understand what the scores in pair skating were based on.

Georgi Kunitsa: In singles, 68 points in the short program seem so low (gestures downward with hand). But in pairs, if you look at Europeans now, it turns out to be a top-3.

Alena Kostornaia: That’s actually very good!

Andrei Zhurankov: But no: you would be the first with the result of the Russian Nationals.

Alena Kostornaia: It’s really hard to compare.

Georgi Kunitsa: There was nothing global at the Grand Prix in Omsk. There were just specific questions about judging.

Alena Kostornaia: Plus, I was upset, and all these emotions rolled into one. I didn’t achieve what I wanted: I wanted to score a certain number of points. I fell just short of it.

Andrei Zhurankov: You wanted 70?

Alena Kostornaia: Well, yes. 70 and something. I fell just short, and that was it — it felt like a loss to me. Nightmare! The world collapsed. I’m bad, everything’s bad. Gosha said, “It’s fine, your lift is cheaper than this one.” And I was like, “But how?!”

Andrei Zhurankov: I specially printed out the protocols. At the Grand Prix in Omsk you got 68 for the short program, at the Russian Nationals – 63.

Alena Kostornaia: At the Russian Nationals, firstly, Gosha was sick. Plus, it was a new program. And, of course, on the throw, we lost a lot.

Andrei Zhurankov: I’m not talking about that, I mean that there was no scandalous interview afterwards.

Alena Kostornaia: Why stir up a scandal when you’ve made mistakes yourself? If we skated perfectly by our standards and still got 63 — that would be different. In Omsk, I didn’t understand when I later saw the protocols, why, for a well-executed lift, we’re conditionally given “-3”. Why? It wasn’t failed, no toe picks, so it was a good lift. Yes, without some superpositions or variations, but it was a fine option: not the easiest, but not mega complicated.

Andrei Zhurankov: Are you saying there was a strange story there? A discrepancy in scores for this lift from “-3” to “+3”?

Alena Kostornaia: Yes.

Georgi Kunitsa: It’s one thing when one judge gives “-3” and their score isn’t counted. But when two do, the scores drop immediately.

Alena Kostornaia: It’s like someone peeked at each other’s answers. Like cheating on a test. I’m just comparing it to that, for me it was really incomprehensible. How? I’m looking at the element. Divide me in two. And one gives me “-3”, and the other gives me “+3”. Why does this happen? It was incomprehensible to me at that moment. Naturally, I wasn’t given a precise answer. They only explained about the levels. But I never argued about the levels at all. Only these two scores were unclear to me. And the component scores, because they were lower even than the juniors’. I’m not saying that we skate super cool…

Andrei Zhurankov: Wait, you were given all components above “eight”.

Alena Kostornaia: Where? In Omsk?

Andrei Zhurankov: For the short program. Or are you talking about the free skate?

Alena Kostornaia: I’m talking about the short program in Omsk.

Andrei Zhurankov: 8.30; 8.25.

Alena Kostornaia: No, specifically about 6.75. For what? It felt like I just went out and skated the whole program swizzling, occasionally falling at the corners. It was really hurtful to me because, of course, I’m comparing it to singles, where I got “nines”, 9.50. And here, 6.75 — for what? What’s this? How? So, that’s why I had such a reaction. Then I slowly began to understand everything — how, why, what, what it’s built on — and, of course, there were no more reactions like that. I already understood and knew what to expect.

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On improving of each other in a pair

Ekaterina Bobrova: But you understand perfectly: you skate as a pair, and it’s not just about your performance, it’s about both of you and they give a scor to both of you. Have you started to adjust yourself now? Regarding Omsk?

Andrei Zhurankov: Based on the stories, not yet.

Alena Kostornaia: No, I understand that we skate as a pair, but I’ll repeat: I compared myself to my solo performances. So, when I compared, there was a question about me: what I didn’t do, how it turned out that I couldn’t do beautifully for the second score. But later it dawned on me that it doesn’t just depend on me.

Ekaterina Bobrova: These two judges just looked at Gosha, not at you, and the others who gave higher scores — at you? Yes? (Laughs.)

Alena Kostornaia: Yes! (Laughs.)

Ekaterina Bobrova: Okay, I’m joking!

Alena Kostornaia: Well, somewhere we sat out of sync, somewhere we looked at each other with glassy eyes. Gosha was so tense, and I was like, “Oh God, please, just don’t laugh! Just don’t laugh, don’t look at him, don’t!” That’s approximately how it was. And then, when we started to analyze each entry in detail, I understood that there are really many moments where, seemingly, everything is fine, but in reality, it’s not even, not the same, not synchronized, and we do things differently.

Ekaterina Bobrova: Alena is changing. Gosha, what would you say about yourself? Did any internal changes happen to you from the beginning of the season to its middle? Or, as a conscious person, were you ready for all of this from the very beginning and knew that everything wouldn’t be handed to you on a silver platter?

Georgi Kunitsa: No, it was clear, I was ready for comparison with Alena, for harsh criticism, including of myself, us. I was ready. If we compare it with the beginning of the season, I try to progress, try to work. It’s clear that Alena has a very high level, and mine is lower. I don’t hide that. I just try.

Alena Kostornaia: That’s why we work a lot with each other.

Georgi Kunitsa: I try to improve, adapt, work. So that it’s identical, so that it’s not — I don’t want to offend anyone — like pair synchronised skating, where such lines (extends arms mechanically) go everywhere. It’s very easy to do. I try to make it modern pair skating with good choreography, but with synchronous interaction.

Alena Kostornaia: When on every entry, on every glide, there’s a straight line of arms. Well, I keep my arms straight, I’m great, we’re skating synchronously! But when people start to make some complex transitions with their torso, with their arms, then it’s very difficult to do it in synch.

Georgi Kunitsa: Yes, complex entries to elements. We skated the short, I think, at one stage with an entry through a split jump.

Alena Kostornaia: Split jump, then steps, steps, flip, exit, also steps.

Georgi Kunitsa: But in the end, it didn’t really affect much.

Alena Kostornaia: It seemed like, damn, from board to board with a jump, everything was quite synchronous, but it wasn’t appreciated.

Georgi Kunitsa: And when others enter with simple transitions without a complex entry, without everything, and are judged differently, you understand that it takes time, probably.

Alena Kostornaia: That you just need time for people to get used to the fact that you do things slightly differently. You have a slightly different story.

Andrei Zhurankov: So, for you, it was crucial not to start with what’s called the elementary option…

Alena Kostornaia: But to go straight to the complex one — yes.

Andrei Zhurankov: Why is that? Everyone starts with the basics.

Alena Kostornaia: Why start small when you can start big right away and then progress?

Ekaterina Bobrova: And then simplify to make it clean. Excuse me (laughs).

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On who works harder in training

Andrei Zhurankov: So, the training sessions are arranged in such a way that Gosha has to work more than Alena?

Georgi Kunitsa: No.

Alena Kostornaia: Well, to some extent — yes.

Andrei Zhurankov: Hold on. Okay. Gosha’s first answer is no. Please explain.

Georgi Kunitsa: No. I work on what’s lacking for me, Alena works on aspects that are lacking for her. This relates to pair skating, pair elements.

Andrei Zhurankov: Alena’s answer is yes.

Alena Kostornaia: Because I need fewer attempts than Gosha to learn, execute well, quickly.

Ekaterina Bobrova: What about consistency? Learning — understandable. What are we talking about now? For example, what to learn?

Alena Kostornaia: For example throws. For Gosha to execute consistently every time, he needs, let’s say, 20 repetitions per training session. For me to go out and perform a quality throw at competitions, not just anyhow, I need to try it twice on each training session. Usually to music. No more needed.

Georgi Kunitsa: She’s not specifically talking about the throws. About the entries, so that we coincide. About all transitions, so that it’s the same.

Alena Kostornaia: Simply because he has to adjust, and I don’t really have to.

Andrei Zhurankov: Then you should start adjusting too.

Alena Kostornaia: If we want to maintain that finesse in gliding, in arms, then it’s more logical for Gosha to adjust.

Andrei Zhurankov: Who’s “we”?

Alena Kostornaia: Me. It seems like Gosha also wanted to keep all of that. Coaches and judges said that if we do this simultaneously, clean it up well, it will be a completely different level. It will be cool!

Andrei Zhurankov: So, Gosha, you have to work specifically on gliding, choreography, smoothness — am I understanding correctly?

Georgi Kunitsa: Yes.

Andrei Zhurankov: But, excuse me, that’s not just learning a throw, it’s work, like in ice dance.

Alena Kostornaia: That’s what I’m saying. That’s why he has to work more than me in some moments.

Georgi Kunitsa: It’s just that my body structure is slightly different after all.

Alena Kostornaia: Yes, purely physically, he won’t be able to replicate something.

Georgi Kunitsa: Purely physically, it turns out slightly different in movement.

Ekaterina Bobrova: That’s why the question. You know, no one doubts that you skate well and you personally have a very high second score. But since Gosha won’t be able to perfectly replicate, like you…

Alena Kostornaia: We stand in front of the mirror and do it exactly as it should be. We spend a lot of time in front of the mirror.

Ekaterina Bobrova: As you? Or do you still find some consensus?

Alena Kostornaia: Naturally, we find it. We have a video of how it should be: how I want it to be, how the choreographers and coaches want it to be. And then there’s the room with the mirror and music, where we try to do something similar, but at the same time from what can be somewhat replicated.

Andrei Zhurankov: Gosha, when you say, “I can’t do it like this,” does Alena compromise?

Georgi Kunitsa: She hesitates at first, but in the end, adjusts, compromises.

Andrei Zhurankov: But not immediately.

Georgi Kunitsa: Not that it’s not immediate… She’s like, “How can you not do it?!”

Alena Kostornaia: Of course, everything happens on emotions. For someone, it’s commonplace, for someone — not. Some movements are familiar to someone, unfamiliar to someone. Someone starts with the right leg, someone with the left. It’s confusing!

Georgi Kunitsa: As they say, a male partner will never understand what the female partner feels, and the female partner will never understand what the male partner feels. Because she’s up there in lifts, I’m down below. I’ll never understand what she’s feeling there. If someone doesn’t lift me. I’ve been lifted, but I specifically mean the situation between us.

Ekaterina Bobrova: Okay. About the side by side spin. This is important. You did I-spin, biellmann, and so on. It’s clear that Gosha can’t do that. For now, perhaps.

Alena Kostornaia: Why not? Gosha can.

Ekaterina Bobrova: Next season, we expect a biellmann from you!

Andrei Zhurankov: A biellmann or a n I-spin?

Alena Kostornaia: I can’t do a biellmann anymore. Well, it depends. If it’s a classical position, then no. With the other leg, maybe yes.

Georgi Kunitsa: I can do I-spin.

Andrei Zhurankov: As far as I know, only the American Leduc did it.

Alena, I just haven’t encountered such pairs. Well, who can you compare yourselves with? You can compare yourselves with Rodnina and Zaitsev. When Rodnina already became an Olympic champion, skating with Ulanov. But she was still more experienced back then. And then Zhuk invited Zaitsev.

Ekaterina Bobrova: Just such a young and inexperienced one.

Georgi Kunitsa: It’s a great honor to be compared to Rodnina and Zaitsev.

Alena Kostornaia: I think you can take an example from Savchenko because Bruno wasn’t super experienced either.

Ekaterina Bobrova: But Bruno was already a pair skater anyway; she didn’t take him from singles.

Alena Kostornaia: So Gosha was also a pair skater!

Ekaterina Bobrova: No, we are talking… Well, okay, never mind.

Georgi Kunitsa: Understandable: Bruno skated longer, Bruno had been skating for many years already.

Alena Kostornaia: Yes, it’s clear what you mean.

Andrei Zhurankov: It’s just in all these stories, of course, the partner was catching up. The same Zaitsev was catching up, but he was catching up with a pair skater. And here you have to catch up with a girl who was in singles. Bruno, the pair skater, was also catching up with a pair skater.

Alena Kostornaia: That’s why there’s a big difference. They were catching up with each other, and we run together.

Andrei Zhurankov: Maybe you should still slow down a little bit?

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On the Motivation to Compete

Ekaterina Bobrova: Here’s a question. I’m deeply concerned about this question and I want to ask you. I can already see how you’re really changing from the beginning of the season. The Russian Nationals has passed now. In principle, again, the work you’ve done is visible — quite significant, I think. Yes, unfortunately, not everything worked out with the short program, but the free skate was much better. This trend is already visible, and in general, it’s evident in the potential of your pair — how much are you willing to continue working hard?

Alena Kostornaia: Well, we saw the result, looked at it, and will continue working further.

Ekaterina Bobrova: Let me ask it bluntly: why do you need this? Skate in shows, you’re a great pair, you’ll be in demand, you’ll earn money. We don’t have any international competitions now. Will there be Olympic Games and, generally, will you be able to qualify for them? Why do you need this?

Alena Kostornaia: I’ll answer for myself. I need this because I generally enjoy being in a competitive…

Andrei Zhurankov: Environment, in competitive stress?

Alena Kostornaia: Yes, I need this.

Georgi Kunitsa: Adrenaline addiction.

Andrei Zhurankov: That’s what I wanted to say — addiction.

Alena Kostornaia: I don’t get these emotions from other fears like flying on a plane, in a hot air balloon, and so on. Or from an MRI machine, enclosed space, elevator. I don’t get these emotions. They’re completely different. I don’t know, I just lack this. I like it. I like how I stand, at first I’m nervous, then I get into the starting position and no longer nervous, then I skate tired, all sweaty — now I’m exhausted. With those thoughts. And still keep going. So I make myself do what’s hard, painful, scary, and so on. In ordinary life, I’m a lazy person, I won’t make myself do it. But on the ice, some kind of crazy perfectionist in me turns on, who won’t move until it’s done.

Ekaterina Bobrova: Gosha, why do you do it?

Georgi Kunitsa: I’ll also speak for myself. Why do I skate? I haven’t achieved something that would make me stop skating. I like it. I also want to prove to myself, prove to some people, that I can. I’ll repeat, I haven’t reached any heights yet. If Alena has achieved something and such a question may be relevant for her… But she wants more. And I haven’t achieved anything like that. I’m just an average figure skater among millions who skated before me and will skate after me. And I want to be among the few.

On the Judging of Russians at the European Championship

Georgi Kunitsa: There are a lot of questions about the European Championships, about how they judged Russian guys competing for other countries. There are very big questions about the first place.

Andrei Zhurankov: So, you watched? Are we understanding correctly?

Alena Kostornaia: We watched everything online, yes.

Andrei Zhurankov: Okay. So, for you, this victory isn’t entirely clear? And who, for you, won the European Championships?

Georgi Kunitsa: Based on how they skated, naturally, Alexei Svyatchenko (in pairs with Maria Pavlova. — Ed. of “Champion”).

Alena Kostornaia: Exactly for the cleanliness of executed elements. We’re not talking about what GOEs were given or not given. But they’re the ones who stuck in my memory…

Georgi Kunitsa: Based on the difficulty of the content, on the cleanliness of the elements.

Alena Kostornaia: I saw how they struggled all year, sometimes lift wasn’t there, sometimes something else wasn’t working out. And then they went out and gave it their all. Absolutely everything. How she held on for those throws. There wasn’t a moment where it was like, “Oops, a little slip, let’s keep going.” It was like, wow! It was very beautiful and quite clean. The other issue is that people with less clean performances were placed higher. Unfortunately, that’s how it is. And it’s very upsetting to some extent for Nastya Gubanova.

Andrei Zhurankov: To some extent. To a huge extent!

Alena Kostornaia: It’s hugely upsetting.

Andrei Zhurankov: For you, is Nastya Gubanova the European champion in terms of performances?

Alena Kostornaia: Yes, based on how she skated both programs, I believe she was worthy of defending her title. But they judged as they judged. We’re not entitled to discuss or condemn that. We’re not the ones sitting there, we’re not the ones judging it.

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On Training Process and Scandals

Andrei Zhurankov: Are you skating for pleasure or for results after all?

Alena Kostornaia: For emotions.

Andrei Zhurankov: Emotions are pleasure. And Georgi, you’re skating for results, right?

Georgi Kunitsa: No, why, I just liked how Alena answered. I agree.

Alena Kostornaia: He supports me.

Andrei Zhurankov: Always?

Alena Kostornaia: Yes.

Ekaterina Bobrova: What are your relationships like during training?

Alena Kostornaia: Complicated.

Ekaterina Bobrova: Are there flying skate guards, banging doors?

Alena Kostornaia: It happened a couple of times; I hit the side of my hand on the board (points to the edge of her palm). Then both Georgi and I called the coach: “Let’s go for an X-ray!”

Ekaterina Bobrova: You just hit the board out of anger?

Alena Kostornaia: Something wasn’t working out for me, purely my fault. I don’t remember exactly what, something complex like a lutz-loop, something difficult.

Georgi Kunitsa: I remember. We were preparing a flip-toe loop combination that day.

Alena Kostornaia: No, not a flip-toe loop. I felt like it was something even more difficult. I couldn’t do it; I was sitting on the ice, crying, snot running down my face. As usual (smiles). A typical training session for a tired athlete at the end of the week. I understand what I want to do, but I don’t have the strength to even stand up. I throw a fit, Georgi comes over, starts lifting me, calming me down, and I don’t like it when someone says, “It’s okay, you’ll get it tomorrow.” I can’t stand it. I start yelling, he doesn’t leave me, doesn’t understand he needs to leave. I scream and start hitting the boards, always the same spot. You can’t hit the ice, you can’t anyone on the ice.

Andrei Zhurankov: Why can’t you hit the ice?

Alena Kostornaia: They teach you that from childhood. Hit yourself on the head.

Georgi Kunitsa: They punish you for that from childhood.

Ekaterina Bobrova: You can’t spit either.

Alena Kostornaia: I haven’t encountered spitting (laughs). So, there’s nothing left except the board. It’s a way to let off steam. Then I got in trouble for my behavior, for hitting the board. Everything happens.

Ekaterina Bobrova: From whom?

Alena Kostornaia: From Sergei Sergeyevich [Roslyakov – coach].

Ekaterina Bobrova: So, Sergei Sergeyevich still has an influence on you in this regard?

Alena Kostornaia: Of course. Even though we communicate as colleagues, it’s clear that the coach is an authority. You’re both doing the same job. It’s probably necessary for both of you, the athlete even more so. The coach is there to help. Whether to listen or not- — that’s the athlete’s business. Everyone who skates is younger than me, and to show that to kids… They’ll start copying right away, and that’s unacceptable.

Andrei Zhurankov: When you’re training, do the kids have to be taken off the ice?

Alena Kostornaia: We usually skate alone. Not because we asked, it just sometimes works out that way. We prepared for the Russian Nationals like this: one pair on the ice — and that’s ours.

Ekaterina Bobrova: Is Alena more emotional, impressionable on the ice during training?

Alena Kostornaia: Yes.

Andrei Zhurankov: More emotional or unrestrained?

Alena Kostornaia: Both.

Georgi Kunitsa: I also lose it sometimes, but rarely.

Alena Kostornaia: On the ice, some kind of inadequate perfectionist wakes up in me, who needs everything at once and right now, and not just any way, but ideally. And if I see that it’s not ideal, we start redoing it, some mistakes start appearing, and in the end I don’t get what I want, I get very upset and offended.

Andrei Zhurankov: Gosha, how do you handle it?

Alena Kostornaia: When we get off the ice, everything is fine right away.

Georgi Kunitsa: I am philosophical about this. I have a good, calm, reserved grandmother, probably the genes were passed on a little bit. No matter what happens, she shows calmness for others, there may be it inside, but I try to show calmness. It’s clear that I can’t always restrain myself.

Alena Kostornaia: There is a very strong line of separation. There we are athletes, there we are connected with each other only by sport, everyone goes out and does their best.

Andrei Zhurankov: Did you agree on that?

Georgi Kunitsa: Yes, from the very beginning.

Ekaterina Bobrova: How do you differentiate that? I can’t imagine. Even if something annoys you, maybe in yourself, maybe Georgi… You come off the ice and still can’t forget it; it’s part of your life.

Georgi Kunitsa: Afterwards, we might discuss something; if the conversation continues at home — you didn’t do this…

Andrei Zhurankov: So, there’s no figure skating at home?

Alena Kostornaia: Almost no.

Andrei Zhurankov: What’s there?

Georgi Kunitsa: There are cats and dogs.

Alena Kostornaia: Relatives, parents, cakes (laughs).

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On side by side triple axel and quadruple throw

Andrei Zhurankov: What’s next for this season, what are you preparing for? I understand that all the New Year’s shows are over now. What’s next?

Alena Kostornaia: We’ve worked on a huge number of shows, practically 30 of them. Huge thanks to Yana Alexandrovna and Yevgeniy Viktorovich. Next — we keep working.

Andrei Zhurankov: By the way, about the side by side triple axel. Everyone says you’ll be the first and only pair to do a side by side triple axel.

Alena Kostornaia: That would be cool, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Andrei Zhurankov: Gosha, have you tried it?

Georgi Kunitsa: I jump axels, yes. Not now, but in general.

Alena Kostornaia: No, he jumps. I remember, I went out, was just learning the swizzles again. Not in October, later, probably. I just go out on the ice, stand there holding onto the boards, and I’m shaking, feeling it all over. It hurts, like… I think, okay, this is it, the end. And there’s Gosha with his axels…

Georgi Kunitsa: We’re not working on it now. We’re working on something completely different. If we try it, it will be only at the end of the season.

Alena Kostornaia: Yeah, I would probably really like to try a quadruple throw as well. I want to try a quadruple flip.

Andrei Zhurankov: Salchow?

Alena Kostornaia: Flip. Flip feels more comfortable for me than anything else. They also say salchow-salchow to me, but for some reason, I feel like that would be uncomfortable for me.

Andrei Zhurankov: Maybe start with three and a half? Classic Kaufman?

Alena Kostornaia: No, that’s a completely different story, different technique, even harder.

Andrei Zhurankov: Will you keep this set of elements for next year? Flip? Lutz?

Alena Kostornaia: We won’t go for a weaker path for sure. But as for complicating things, we don’t know yet. For now, we’ve been doing flip-double axel-double axel. I do flip-toe loop with arms up, and Gosh doesn’t.

Georgi Kunitsa: We tried it with toe loop, yes. It’s quite a remarkable story with this flip-toe loop. We never messed up this combination in practice before the performance. Never.

Alena Kostornaia: Eight combinations back and forth, no big deal.

Georgi Kunitsa: And then, just a bit before the performance, both me and Alena were slightly off.

Alena Kostornaia: Yeah, I just sat down. And I was like, “Can we start over? Please, we didn’t go that far off.”


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