Local skating pair first to compete at GP finals
December 3, 2016
Article from The Australian. Reported by Nicole Jeffrey.
The remarkable progress of star figure-skating pair Harley Windsor and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya accelerated again yesterday when they became the first figure skaters from Australia to be invited to the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix Finals in France next week.
Indigenous skater Windsor, 20, from Rooty Hill in Sydney’s west, was paired with Russian 16-year-old Alexandrovskaya by their Russian coaches less than a year ago and they have since made a phenomenal rise through the international ranks.
After winning a junior grand prix event at Tallinn in Estonia in September, they rose to seventh in the world rankings.
Only the top six ranked skaters are invited to the grand prix final in each category, but after the Russian junior pair of Ekaterina Borisova and Dmitry Sopot withdrew because of injury, their place was offered to the Australian pair this week. After showing off their growing virtuosity at the national figure skating championships in Melbourne this week, Windsor and Alexandrovskaya will leave for Marseilles in France next week.
They won their first national title on Wednesday night after landing an extremely difficult throw triple lutz in both their short and free programs. In less than a year they have mastered most of the technical elements, including a triple twist, triple throws and complex lifts, that the leading international pairs do.
“It’s been an amazing time,” Windsor said. “This time last year we hadn’t met — let alone skated together. I wouldn’t have believed it a year ago but I can believe it now. It’s very exciting.’’
Sydney-based coaches Andrei and Galina Pachin believe their young charges are ready for the challenge ahead.
“Sometimes we can’t believe it, but we knew as soon as they took their first steps together that it was right,” Galina said. “We’re excited, nervous, all of that, but they had great training yesterday.”
She believes they can win a medal at the world junior championships in March and secure an Olympic place with a top 15 finish at the championships in April.
The bigger barrier to their Olympic dream at the moment appears to be the Australian naturalisation process for Alexandrovskaya, who expects to lodge her application for a distinguished talent visa before Christmas. She will need to be an Australian citizen by February 2018 if the couple is to compete together at the next Winter Olympics in South Korea.