How An Indigenous Kid From Rooty Hill Became World Figure Skating Champion
March 21, 2017
Article from www.huffingtonpost.com.au. Reported by Anthony Sharwood.
It all started with a wrong turn at the local McDonald's.
This story sounds like it's made up. But it's not. It's real, it just happened, and everyone is now really excited about what happens next.
It's about Harley Windsor and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya -- "Harley and Kat" to their mates -- who just won the pairs event at the junior world figure skating championships in Taipei.
That's right. Two Aussies -- or at least, an Aussie and a Russian who's rapidly turning into one -- just won a thing that Australians have never won before. And how they got there is quite the yarn.
Windsor, 20, is an Aussie bloke who grew up in Rooty Hill, in western Sydney. He has indigenous heritage. Indeed his great grandparents never spoke English.
So one day when Harley was nine, his mum Josie pulled into a Macca's in western Sydney. They were only there after Josie had taken a wrong turn, but they stayed for brekky. On the way out, they noticed the Blacktown ice rink across the road. In they went, mostly out of curiosity.
Windsor soon got hooked. He went once a week, then twice a week, then more and more. He soon started working with coaches Galina and Andrei Pachin at the Canterbury Ice Rink in Sydney's inner west -- that is, when he could afford the train fare to get there.
The Pachins had moved to Australia from Russia in the 1990s. They saw in Windsor a lithe, tall, co-ordinated athlete they could work with, and trained him in the balletic, elegant Russian style.
The problem is that Harley had no Australian skating partner with whom he really gelled. So the Pachins set off on a search for a partner. In Moscow, they found Ekaterina "Katia" Alexandrovskaya, a 16-year-old skater whose father had just died, and who had no skating partner.
A respected Russian coach gave the nod for Alexandrovskaya to go to Australia and stay with the Pachins. This was in late 2015. But would Windsor and Alexandrovskaya gel?
Belinda Noonan is a former Australian figure skating champion and Olympic coach. She was there at Canterbury ice rink as the duo skated on Australian ice together for the first time.
"Straight away, I said 'yep they are fantastic'," Noonan told the Huffington Post Australia.
"The remarkable thing is that Harley had been trained in Russian technique from when he was nine, and so had Katia, as a young child in the Russian system. When I saw them together, they had identical technique. And not only that, but high quality.
"Then they added speed to it, then they added hard work and the desire, and then the chemistry just magically came."
That chemistry was on show for all to see as the pair secured the junior world championship on the weekend with an inspirational long routine, having been in third place after the short program. The whole thing is here. Enjoy.
Did you bawl your eyes out watching that like we did? Well, you definitely will if you watch the bit just before eight minutes where Harley says "Hi everybody at home. Mum and dad, that's for you."
High on the agenda now for this talented duo is an attempt at qualification for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea, which are now just 11 months away.
Meanwhile for Alexandrovskaya, the process of assimilating into Australian life continues. Belinda Noonan recently took her shopping for a new bikini. "You're an Aussie girl now, you can't have a daggy one," was her explanation.
"She loves it here," Noonan said. "She told me she loves the weather, the beaches, the nature and her awesome partner."
Does Australia have its own Torvill and Dean? Not quite yet, but Harley and Kat has a nice ring to it.