Harley Windsor, the indigenous 20-year-old who has just become a world champion skater
March 21, 2017
Article from www.news.com.au. Reported by Benedict Brook and AAP.
Move over Russia, make room China - there’s a new gold medal winning ice skating nation in town.
For a country with a barely a scintilla of ice itself, Australia is now an ice skating world champion. And much of that is down to an indigenous 20-year-old from western Sydney who probably wouldn’t be skating today if his mum hadn’t taken a wrong turn on a day trip out.
Harley Windsor and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya became Australia’s first world figure skating champions late last week after they delivered a stunning free program skate in Taipei City, Taiwan to capture gold in the junior titles.
“I’m shocked, it’s crazy to put Australia in the scene for skating,” said Mr Windsor who hails from Rooty Hill in Sydney’s west.
His mum was even more stunned. “I screamed and screamed and then the dog almost bit me,” she told ABC Sydney’s Chris Bath.
Josie Windsor-Dahlstrom said — confidentially - she expected her son to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea.
But the feat was still an incredible task with Australian duo outperforming the fancied pairs from the most dominant skating nations in the world including Russia and China.
“It was a little bit scary when we realised we were getting on the ice with all three Chinese pairs,” Mr Windsor told the Australian, before the skate. “You don’t want to get in their way but then you kind of realise we are doing everything they are doing, so we have to have the mindset that we’re just as good as them and we have every right to be there.”
Sitting at home in Western Sydney his mum watched every moment of her son’s performance.
“I cried; I stopped breathing I think. It was really awesome, I thought I was going to faint when I saw what was happening,” she said on ABC Radio.
Mr Windsor’s introduction was by fluke. Aged just eight, his mum got lost driving around Sydney and ended up at Blacktown ice skating rink.
“I was with my mum and we sort of just took a wrong turn and found an ice rink. I decided I wanted to give it a go,” Mr Windsor told SBS.
“I kind of just loved the feeling across the ice, you get a nice cold breeze in your face and I felt like it was my thing.”
His mum was having a coffee at the time, “No one had come out and said my son had broken his arm so I went in and there he is zipping back and forward on the ice rink and I said ‘Harley I didn’t know you could get skate, son’ and he said ‘neither did I Mum’”.
Within a year of first stepping on the ice, Mr Windsor won the NSW championships for his age.
A gruelling regimen of alarms going off at 4am and then skating practice both before and after school beckoned.
Mr Windsor almost left the sport because, at 186cm, he was too tall to skate alone. But matching up with Russian born Ms Alexandrovskaya gave him another shot at the podium, which the pair achieved just 10 months later winning gold at a junior grand prix in Estonia in late 2016.
He now splits his time between Sydney and Ms Alexandrovskaya’s home town of Moscow.
Mrs Windsor-Dahlstrom Windsor said there was absolutely no history of skating in the family.
“I come from a little town called Gulargambone, between Dubbo and Walgett, and Harley’s dad is from Moore, the Gamilaraay people.
“We all come from the farm and the land. Harley’s as white as anything and he does traditional Aboriginal dance but to go on the ice, we don’t know where that comes from.
“I’m the odd one out,” Mr Windsor has said in the past. “But both my parents are 100 per cent supportive of it,” he told SBS.
“Harley is first and only Aboriginal person that’s ever been to ice skating. [He’s] brought home a medal for Australia and it took an Aboriginal person. When he goes to the Olympics he’ll be the first ever Aboriginal person to represent Australia in ice skating,” she said.
There’s a few hurdles before next February’s Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games. Mr Windsor and Ms Alexandrovskaya will head from Taiwan to Moscow to train up for next month’s qualifier in Helsinki.
There is also the small problem of Ms Alexandrovskaya lack of Australian citizenship. Mrs Windsor said it was “looking promising” on this front.
In December 2016, at the Marseilles championships in France, Mr Windsor said “everything I’ve learnt, I’ve learnt with [Ekaterina].”
Of his new found international success he was modest in Taiwan. “We’re over the moon about the gold medal, I can’t put it into words.”