How an ice - skating odd couple is storming towards the 2018 Winter Olympics
December 24, 2016
Article from ABC News. Reported by Mazoe Ford.
Australia is not known for producing world-class pairs figure skaters, but that could be about to change.
Two young skaters are rising rapidly through the junior ranks, and they have set their sights on winning a medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Harley Windsor and Katia Alexandrovskaya have been skating together for less than a year and have represented Australia at only four international competitions.
But they won one of those tournaments and placed highly in the others.
"Currently if you were going to put us on sort of rankings and stuff we're the fifth best junior pair in the world," Harley said.
"The world rankings are sort of based off previous seasons, so for us to be that high only in our first season is quite good."
It is an impressive feat for the pair who were born on opposite sides of the world — 20-year-old Harley comes from western Sydney and has Indigenous heritage, while Katia, 16, is from Russia.
"I enjoy skating with Harley because he is good partner and we skate the same, we are good pair," Katia said.
World-wide search for a partner
They could not find the right partners on home ice, so their respective coaches connected them in Moscow, then Katia moved to Australia in January 2015.
"Our skating styles are very similar and we just sort of matched really well straight off I guess," Harley said.
"You can just sort of feel straight from the beginning if it's going to be good or going to be bad."
The pair's coaches, Andrei and Galina Pachin, used to represent Russia in pairs figure skating, but moved to Australia 20 years ago.
Olympics on the horizon
They believe Harley and Katia have what it takes to medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
"We can see the potential there, like it could be even better than what is happening today," Mrs Pachin said.
"Sometimes up and down of course, like some sessions good and some sessions not, but technically they've got quality of elements today to be really good in the future, just need more experience."
Both Harley and Katia admitted the language barrier could be challenging at times, but he is learning Russian and she is learning English.
"At other times I think the language barrier actually helps us a little bit, you know — when we do get angry at each other on the ice it stops us from being too verbal I guess," Harley said.
Their next major competitions will be the World Junior and Senior Championships in March.
If they skate well there, and Katia becomes an Australian citizen, they will qualify for the Olympics.