“We’re all a little crazy. That’s how we found each other” Alena Kostornaia and Georgy Kunitsa about their relationships and engagement
Article and interview with Alena Kostornaia and Georgy Kunitsa about their relationships and engagement.
Georgi Kunitsa is 20 years old, Alena Kostornaia will turn 20 in August. They knew each other since their time in Eteri Tutberidze’s group – they trained with her at the same time. Georgi was originally a single skater, but three years ago, after consulting with Eteri Tutberidze, he switched to pair skating and Tamara Moskvina.
In the same year of 2020, Kostornaia left Tutberidze to join the group of Evgeni Plushenko, but returned back after a year, only to leave again in 2022 – this time to Elena Buyanova. That’s how her singles career developed.
The athletes themselves admit that they hardly communicated when they trained in the same group and didn’t really notice each other. Alena has only one funny story about Georgi from those times: “When Gosha (Georgi) came, it was a total nightmare. I thought, ‘Wow! This guy didn’t have much luck, he’s going to be laughed at.'”
Let me explain. We were used to seeing boys skating in pants that were like training pants. In other words, they were not attached to the boots but were standard sports pants that were wider at the top and tapered at the bottom, tight on the ankles. So nothing covered the boots.
But he wore those classic pants that fastened at the bottom of the boots, with a padded shorts. And only girls in our group wore those padded shorts and only when they were learning jumps. If a boy came wearing such pants, it was just cringeworthy. And his hairstyle was hilarious. I thought, ‘Wow, couldn’t someone warn him so he could maybe take off this padded shorts?’
“We could say hello back then, exchange a few words, ask for something to be brought, have a little chat in the rink. But outside of training, we didn’t interact,” Georgy recalls.
At the beginning of the 2022/23 season, Alena underwent surgery due to an injury and barely skated. However, she performed in shows (“Dracula,” “The Musicians of Bremen”) where she once tried partnering with Kunitsa.
Georgy had already left Moskvina’s group by then and was without a partner: he skated with Ksenia Sinitsyna for a couple of weeks – another single skater, but the partnership didn’t work out.
Kostornaia and Kunitsa started working together almost by chance – Georgi congratulated Alena on her birthday on social media, and they started talking. Alena lamented that she didn’t know what to do next – there was surgery ahead, but she had the option to perform in shows. However, the organizers wanted to see Alena with a partner – she shared this with Kunitsa, whose own career was also in limbo at that time.
After the surgery, Alena didn’t give up the idea and tried learning pair elements with Georgi under the guidance of coach Sergei Roslyakov. Their performances in the shows were successful, so by January 2023, Kostornaia announced a full transition to pair skating.
Roslyakov remained their coach, with whom the pair prepared for the shows. Their choreographer was Betina Popova, the champion of the 2019 Winter Universiade in ice dance.
A month after switching to pairs, Kostornaia hinted on social media that she and Kunitsa were a couple not only on the ice.
“I’ve got myself a marten (that’s what “Kunitsa” mean in Russian – ed.) ❤️. Mom allowed me to keep him,” Kostornaia posted.
According to Alena, it definitely wasn’t love at first sight. She said, “It just happened that way. At first, he hardly made any moves, and I thought something was wrong with me. That I made it up myself. He was like, ‘We’re just skating.’ And I thought, ‘No, we’re just skating.’ And we both said, ‘No, this is cringe – skating and dating.'”
There wasn’t a moment where everything changed all at once. It happened gradually.
“We just went to a rehearsal in St. Petersburg, went somewhere, held hands, and then something else happened… Who kissed first? Me,” Kunitsa recalled.
As Alena explains, Georgi won her over with his attentiveness and gallantry. Kunitsa, on the other hand, assured that he wasn’t captivated by beauty alone and that he values the character of a person. He also appreciates Kostornaia’s sense of humor. Additionally, after a rehearsal one time, Alena invited him to her home (it was late at night) and served him potato-filled dumplings.
“We’re all a little crazy. That’s how we found each other, I think,” Kunitsa summed up.
Their relationship has already passed the test with their parents. The couple visited Alena’s mother and father at their country house for a few days, and Alena’s family approved of her beloved.
“He established a connection with everyone. Even my father said after the feast, ‘Alena, don’t screw it up with him!’ For my dad, Georgi is a completely new person. I felt a tightening inside me, thinking, ‘Oh God, why did I come up with all of this?’ But after about 40 minutes, he talked to everyone, made jokes here and there, and my family said, ‘Super, great! Much better than all your previous ones, the perfect choice,'” Alena recalled.
And just recently, Alena and Georgi announced their engagement, several months after the start of their relationship.
Georgi proposed to Alena in an air balloon.
“I decided to propose a couple of months ago. Why an air balloon? I love approaching everything creatively. As it seemed to me, this option was very romantic and unusual. Not in Paris, on the Eiffel Tower, but in an air balloon. I was afraid to hear ‘No.’ I was very nervous,” Georgi explained.
But his fears were in vain. Alena had also made up her mind long ago. “I started to suspect something when Georgi began running away from me so that I wouldn’t go into his bag. I used to always put my phone in it, and this time I asked why he took it,” she said.
“I said ‘Yes’ right away because I had long realized that he is the one, and I won’t change my mind. I felt shocked and joyful. I was in a small stupor but didn’t cry.”