Wrong turn the right choice for Australia's first Indigenous Winter Olympian Harley Windsor
November 9, 2017
Article from The Sydney Morning Herald. Reported by Phil Lutton.
A wrong turn in Blacktown has ended up in Pyeongchang for Harley Windsor, a 21-year-old figure skater who has become Australia's first Indigenous Winter Olympic athlete.
Windsor will appear alongside figure skating partner Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya at the 2018 Games in February fresh from making history after they won the Junior World Championships pairs earlier in the year. Prior to that, it was 41 years since an Australian junior had won a medal of any colour.
To say Windsor has made his way to the Games in an unorthodox fashion would be an understatement. It was only getting lost in the first place that saw him tie on a pair of skates, with fate taking him to a rink in Sydney's west 12 years ago.
"I was eight years old. I started skating at Blacktown ice rink. I was driving with my mum and we took a wrong turn. I saw the ice rink and asked if I could go in and have a try for something different," Windsor said.
"I started with a public session and went back the next week and the next week. I really liked it. I took it from there. I started some private coaching after a few months and that's how it all began."
Windsor admits to not being particularly sporty as a kid growing up in Rooty Hill. He tried rugby league and football with his mates but never really took a shine to either. As for winter sports, he barely knew a thing about them.
"I never watched winter sports at all as a kid. I didn't have any interest before I started getting good at skating. Never watched it at all," he said.
"I played football and soccer at school here and there. Nothing too much. My close friends, they were really supportive of my skating. They've followed me all the way through."
There has been 51 Indigenous summer Olympians but Windsor is the first to suit up for the Winter Games. Windsor has always embraced his cultural roots and brings it to the Games as a badge of pride and honour.
"It's a bit overwhelming at the moment. I've grown up in an Aboriginal community all my life and always been part of Aboriginal culture since I can remember. It's a big part of my life," he said.
On the ice, the signs have been overwhelmingly positive for a rising star of the sport. With Russian-born Alexandrovskaya, who at just 17 also stands to make her Olympic debut, Windsor beat heavyweight pairings from Russia, China and Canada to win the world title in Taiwan in March.
The Olympics represent a massive rise in class and competition but Windsor said they were full of belief as they prepared to take to the ice in South Korea.
"It's [world title] definitely a boost for us heading into the Olympics. We're skating well ... it's been such a big past few months for us," he said.
"For us, we want to skate to the best of our ability and we'd be extremely happy if we could get a top 10 finish."
Australia will take a four-strong figure skating team to Pyeongchang, with Brendan Kerry and Kailani Craine to compete individually.