Australia's newest sporting champions are an Indigenous figure skater and his Russian-born partner
October 21, 2016
Article from www.sbs.com.au. Reported by Alyssa Braithwaite.
Indigenous ice skater Harley Windsor from Rooty Hill in Sydney's west and his Russian-born partner Ekaterina (Katia) Alexandrovskaya made history at the Junior Grand Prix event in Tallinn, Estonia on September 30 when they won the pairs title, beating the top three Russian teams.
It is Australia's first every ice skating Junior Grand Prix medal, and it comes from a pair who have been skating together for less than a year.
Back in Sydney to celebrate his 20th birthday at home with his family, Windsor tells NITV the hard-earned result seemed almost too good to be true.
"I couldn't believe it at first. I was worried that they messed up the scores and they put us in the wrong spot," Windsor says after a training session at Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink on October 20.
"They had three of the top Russian pairs and American pairs, and going into it I wasn't expecting too much. We just went out and skated with no hesitation and skated well, and I think it put the pressure on all the other skaters.
"It was very exciting. Getting the first medal ever at a Junior Grand Prix for Australia and making history - I was too overwhelmed with everything to really soak it in. I was in shock for quite a while."
He wasn't the only one experiencing shock - the top teams were not expecting such stiff competition from the Australian team.
"The Russians dominate the circuit at the moment, and the pairs that we've been competing against have been skating together for quite a few years and have a lot more pair experience than me, so I think it was a big shock to everyone that we've sort of come out of nowhere and shown them all," Windsor says with a laugh.
"Everyone sort of looks at us funny when we represent Australia. They think 'ice skating in Australia?'. But when they see us skate they think 'Oh Jesus'. We've kind of shocked a lot of people this season. I'm very proud to represent Australia."
Windsor and his partner Alexandrovskaya have been training in Moscow recently alongside the current Olympic champions, which he feels has had a positive effect on his own skating.
"I train with the Olympic champions and the silver medalists from the Olympics - basically the top four Russian pairs," he says.
"I've seen these guys on TV and now that I'm training next to them it makes you want to push harder and keep up with them. It's definitely beneficial for our training."
The gold medal win is the culmination of many years of hard work for Windsor, who started ice skating when he was just eight years old.
His coach Galina Pachin has been training him for more than a decade, and says she immediately saw he had innate ability.
"He's got really natural moves on the ice, and he really enjoys what he is doing," Pachin says.
"I know when he was little his mum told me he did lots of Aboriginal dancing, and I think it helped. He has very nice natural moves and he feels the music. He's got natural talent, and I'm happy I've got that challenge in my hands to develop to a gold medalist for Australia."
Windsor and Alexandrovskaya have a busy season of competitions ahead of them, including the Australian Nationals early next year, but the"ultimate goal" is to represent Australia at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.
"They have very good potential to qualify in the sport for Australia to compete in the pairs at the Olympic Games in Korea 2018," Pachin says.
"But a big problem is that both partners have to be citizens of Australia to represent Australia at the Olympic Games, so that's what we're trying now with help from the Olympic committee to get permanent residency for Katia, and citizenship in the future. If we can do that it would be amazing to see them represent Australia at the Olympic Games."