Alena Kostornaia and Georgi Kunitsa: “I would like to do a side-by-side triple axel in the programs. I’m not sure how feasible it is, but I think someday it will be possible.”
Interview with Alena Kostornaia and Georgi Kunitsa.
source: siriusmag.ru dd. 25th June 2023 by Olga Zakharova
Alena, what element would you like to learn in pair skating?
Alena Kostornaia: I would like to do a side-by-side triple axel in the programs. I’m not sure how feasible it is, but I think someday it will be possible. For now, I want to perform all elements well, at a high level. We’ll talk about complicating things later.
Tell us about your preparation for competitions.
Alena Kostornaia: First, the load increases, and then about 3-4 days before the competitions, it decreases. The body no longer works on fatigue but rather focuses on gaining strength and being as well-trained as possible for the tournament. At the same time, you need to be well-rested, in good shape, but with an explosive body.
What elements do skaters usually perform during the six-minute warm-up before a performance?
Alena Kostornaia: Complex coordination elements that require more energy and carry a risk of making a mistake or getting injured.
Georgi Kunitsa: Twist, for example, when a skater throws the partner up and catches her. Side by side jumps, throws. It’s more for the mental preparation.
Alena Kostornaia: It’s purely psychological. Just to warm-up. For example, when I competed as a single skater, I jumped very little and skated a lot because I needed to feel my body on the ice. Others may jump a lot. Everyone has their own approach.
What helps you deal with nervousness before a performance?
Alena Kostornaia: I’m a panicky person, so I always run around trembling and saying, “Everything is bad, everything is bad, it’s going to be a disaster.” And then I go out and somehow do everything. Maybe this running around, hustle, and bustle help me set myself up not to expect anything good. We do elements in training, and when they work in the performance, it’s doubly joyful. I don’t know how it works. It’s the opposite for Gosha.
Georgi Kunitsa: I’m calm on the outside. But I won’t say that nervousness is a bad thing; on the contrary, adrenaline gets into your blood.
How can beginner figure skaters overcome the fear of falling during jumps?
Alena Kostornaia: We have protective shorts with padding for that purpose. When we learn new elements, we wear them. But overall, there are techniques taught from the beginning on how to fall properly.
Georgi Kunitsa: One of my coaches used to say, “You can’t jump higher than your head, and you won’t fall lower than the ice.”
Is it necessary to “engage” your mind during jumps? What do you think about in those moments?
Alena Kostornaia: I simply count the tempo of the jump in my head to maintain it, but it doesn’t always help. I also think about how much more skating is left, how many elements need to be done.
Georgi Kunitsa: Sometimes, though, thinking too much can be detrimental. You just need to do it.
You have already created a program for the upcoming season starting in July. How does that usually happen?
Georgi Kunitsa: We chose several music options, proposed them to the coaches, and came to a common decision. We will skate to what we liked this season.
How do you choreograph the movements to fit the music in the program?
Alena Kostornaia: The spectacular element should be accentuated by the music. If it’s calm and smooth, then perhaps we should do more skating. Something like that. We have a choreographer who takes care of this.
How do you choose costumes for your program?
Alena Kostornaia: I usually send the music to my designer, tell them how we skate and what I roughly want to see myself wearing. Then we create sketches and take them, along with fabric samples, to the coaches. We look at the color, shade, adjust the details, try them on, look again, make alterations.
After each competition, we alter the dress, and by the third competition of the season, we reach the ideal that we want to see.
Georgi Kunitsa: It’s easier for boys in this regard. We usually have classic pants and a shirt.
What qualities should a professional athlete have?
Georgi Kunitsa: They should not be lazy and should overcome themselves every day.
Alena Kostornaia: Determination, desire, and hard work. All of these qualities generally distinguish a successful person. And every time, you should try to do a little better than before.