Aussies to skate for Winter Olympics berth
March 27, 2017
Article from www.thewest.com.au. Reported by Warren Barnsley.
They're the figure skating odd couple that could be wearing the green and gold in Pyeongchang.
Harley Windsor, an indigenous man from western Sydney, and Moscow-product Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, who does not yet have Australian citizenship, are vying for one of 20 places at February's Winter Olympics.
They will compete against 38 other pairs at this week's world championships in Helsinki, which will determine the first 16 Olympic spots.
Ranked 40 in the world, the Australian team are brimming with confidence after upsetting rivals from Russia and China to be crowned world junior champions in Taiwan earlier this month.
"I think we have a very good chance of getting Australia the spot for the Olympics," Windsor, 20, told AAP from their training base in Moscow.
"We are both good competitors and if everything goes as planned and we skate good programs, I think 100 per cent we will go."
In Taiwan, the pair produced a personal best overall score, pulling off a clean throw triple flip and side by side triple jump combos in what may have been the performance of their lives.
Despite their vastly different backgrounds and a challenging training regime split between Sydney's Canterbury Ice Rink and Moscow, Windsor says the pair make it work.
"I think both Katia and I are very well matched as a pair and we both know exactly what we want and what we need to do in order to achieve the results," he said.
"But there are plenty of nerves leading towards worlds. It's our first season together as a pair but we also know we are more than capable of doing everything.
"Our preparation has been good so far. It's always hard going back-to-back competitions but I think we can get through this last competition."
Windsor's path to skating came about by accident. As a child, his mother took a wrong turn while driving and stumbled across Blacktown ice rink.
"I'd never seen it before and it was something different in Australia so I decided to give it a go," Windsor said.
"My family comes from the country and all my siblings grew up with horses on a farm so it's definitely a first for my family and it was a bit of a turn in the other direction."
If the Australians miss Olympic qualification in Helsinki this week, they have a second chance to fill the remaining four spots in September.
Compatriot Brendan Kerry is also a chance to qualify for his second Olympics in singles at the world championships, while Kailani Craine will vie to make her first Games.
Qualification for Pyeongchang in South Korea would cap a golden run for Australia in winter sports, with freestyle skiers and snowboarders starring at world championships.
It would also be the pinnacle for Windsor.
"The Olympics are the ultimate dream. It's the best of the best. I can confidently say I have reached my life dream if we make it," he said.