Figure skater Harley Windsor becomes Australia's first Indigenous Winter Olympic athlete
February 5, 2018
Article from abc.net.au. Reported by Duncan Huntsdale.
From Rooty Hill in Western Sydney to Pyeongchang, South Korea, Harley Windsor has completed a history-making journey to the Winter Olympics.
The 21-year-old figure skater will become Australia's first Indigenous athlete to compete at the Winter Games.
Windsor stumbled upon the sport during a car trip as a youngster.
"I got into figure skating by accident, I took a wrong turn with my Mum and I found Blacktown Ice Rink and asked if I could go in and everything kind of took off from there," Windsor told the ABC.
What started as a hobby soon became serious.
Under the coaching of Russian-born couple Andrei and Galina Pachin, Windsor's talent was developed through many hours at Canterbury Ice Rink. His coaches teamed him up with another former Russian, Ekaterina "Katia" Alexandrovskaya.
Last year they won the Junior World Figure Skating Championships but Windsor had no idea he was in line to become Australia's first Indigenous Winter Olympian.
"At first it was a little bit of a surprise and stuff like that but I guess it makes me a little bit honoured to be the first one," Windsor said.
"None of my friends have got into a winter sport before so I'm a bit of branch out from everyone else".
Finding the right figure skating partner can be tricky - the right height difference (Windsor towers over Alexandrovskaya), chemistry, and mix of personalities are all important.
"I like to skate with Harley, he's a good partner, he's not angry, he's quiet," Alexandrovskaya said.
Their main coach says opposites attract when it comes to figure skating pairs.
"Katia is more explosive, Harley a little bit more of a gentleman, Katia is more rough, he's more softer," Andrei Pachin said with a laugh.
That does not mean the fire and ice combination does not produce its share of disagreements.
"Sometimes fights happen but at the end of the day you put all that aside and put trust in one another. I think that's one of the biggest things in skating," Windsor said.
The relatively new pairing does not expect to be on the podium at the Winter Olympics.
"We want to try to skate two clean programs and skate the best that we can and hope for a top 12 finish," Windsor said.
Windsor believes a medal at the 2022 Winter Games is a realistic goal.
"Oh absolutely, the next games we're really aiming for the high end finish. In four more years we'll be a lot stronger as a pair- we'll have better elements, physically we'll be a lot stronger and we'll have a lot more experience in competition," Windsor said.
Windsor's coach says his pupil is a student of the sport.
"He's really interested in the history of ice skating and all the time he's going back 20 years and seeing how people did this compared with what we're doing now," Pachin said.
Windsor is hoping his own piece of history will inspire other Indigenous Australians to join him on the ice or take to the snow.
"I hope that I can push them towards winter sports rather than summer sports," Windsor said. "Australia has very talented athletes and I feel like we can be as successful in winter and summer sports."