Young team prepare for World Junior titles
March 13, 2017

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Australia’s largest, strongest and youngest Junior Worlds Figure Skating team in recent history will compete at the Junior World Figure Skating Championships in Taipei this week.  
Contesting the Ladies, Men, Dance and Pair titles will be Holly Harris (14), James Min (16), ice dancers Matilda Friend (17) and William Badoui (18) and pair skaters Harley Windsor (20) and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya (17).
The rise of pair skaters Windsor and Alexandrovskaya has them tipped as genuine medal contenders.  
After winning Australia’s first gold in a Junior Grand Prix and backing it up with a fifth place in the Junior Final and performing high-quality high-level triple throws and twists in their first season, the expectations of the indigenous Sydney-sider and his Moscow-born partner are high.
“Last year when we started I could not expect the result we had,” Alexandrovskaya said of their performances so far. “Australia is not a figure skating country. But this (the pairing) has worked.”
“We are going for a medal but we have to skate clean to do it,” Windsor said. 

National Junior Men’s Champion James Min is no stranger to world competition who already has two World Junior Championships under his belt (placing 31st and 27th).
The engaging Adelaide teenager, who is the eldest son of Cambodian refugees, weighs just 44kgs – but is accomplishing multiple triple jump combinations and what he lacks in stature he makes up for in performance skills and execution.
“The key is on-going development,” said coach Richard Laidlaw who has taught Min since his first days on the ice.  
“He has a good jumping technique now. All the triples are in place and we will continue to develop quads next season. For now though, it is about doing what he can do well,” Laidlaw said.
Min is much more focussed on the process rather than the outcome.
“I’m doing clean run throughs and my fitness is great,” he said. “I am obsessed over my lutz at the moment because it’s not 100 percent where I want it to be every day.”
“I just need to focus on what I need to do in the moment. Think about the process and not the outcome and do what I do in training.”
At 14, Holly Harris is the youngest in the Australian team but has impressed in her debut junior international season placing 11th in her first Junior Grand Prix (Germany) and collecting a silver medal in Riga, Latvia late last year with mature performances, technically and artistically, that belie her tender years.
Harris, who trains most of the year in Colorado Springs with her mum Karen looking after her whilst her father and siblings remain in Sydney, is a talent to watch for the future.
Coach Tom Zakrajsek confirmed Harris’ potential.
“Holly has been working very hard and training very thoroughly to prepare for World Juniors,” Zakrajsek said.
“I feel fortunate to be coaching her as she is a young talent with a bright future. She has very specific goals for the event regarding personal bests and she will using her first appearance at theses championships to gain experience so that she can springboard to greater achievements over the next few years.”

For ice dancers Matilda Friend and William Badaoui, its’ another week, another country and another comp.
Junior Worlds closes a long and demanding season for duo, who in February, competed back to back in the Four Continents Championship in PyeongChang and the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan.
Baddoui says competing at the Asian Winter Games, where they finished in 6th place with two new PBs, has given them a big confidence boost.
"Just the scale and level of competition at Asian Winter Games, everything feels a little bit easier when you come out of a competition that big," he said.
"Experiencing something that was so close to an Olympics, which is our ultimate goal, gave us new motivation and drive." Friend said.
The Junior and Senior Ice Dance national champions goal for Junior Worlds is to earn a high enough ranking after their short dance to make it through to the free dance , which both acknowledge will require a flawless skate and top effort given the calibre of the 31 teams competing.
"But we're also looking for a PB and to improve our ranking from last year,” they said.
The Junior World Figure Skating Championships will be held from Wednesday March 15 to 18 in Taipei and begin with the men’s short program on Wednesday followed by the Pairs short.


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