Fairytale on ice for prospective first indigenous Winter Olympian
November 28, 2016
Article from The Australian. Reported by Nicole Jeffrey.
Boy meets girl, but then the story becomes wildly improbable.
In this case, an indigenous boy from Sydney’s Rooty Hill meets a Russian girl from Moscow and they form a figure-skating pair that wins a major junior international competition within a year.
They are now on track for the next Winter Olympics, in South Korea in 2018, as long as the Immigration Department obliges by granting her a visa and ultimately citizenship.
Harley Windsor, 19, and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, 16, have come from different worlds and speak different languages, but the moment they stepped onto the ice they realised they fitted together.
Sydney-based Russian coaches Andrei and Galina Pachin acted as matchmakers, along with Alexandrovskaya’s Olympic gold medal-winning coach Nina Mozer, to introduce the two skaters after they could not find a local partner for Windsor, who they believed had the talent to be internationally competitive.
Windsor was on the verge of quitting the sport.
He had grown too tall, at 186cm, to become a top-class singles skater but did not believe he could make it as a pairs skater.
“I wasn’t so strong and I didn’t really have any experience, and to get a Russian partner, when Russia has dominated pairs for so long — it was really far-fetched and nothing I was expecting to go anywhere with,’’ Windsor said.
“The first time I met her (in Moscow) was a little bit scary and awkward. She spoke no English at all. But the first time we got on the ice I felt comfortable with her straight away.’’
Just 10 months later, in September, they won their second international competition together, an International Skating Union Junior Grand Prix in Tallinn, Estonia, where they defeated three highly-ranked Russian teams.
“We went from literally scratch to doing all the elements that the top pairs in the world are doing right now,’’ Windsor said.
“We progressed really quickly and I think a lot of that has to do with us matching really well together and both wanting the same thing. Our body types, our height difference and our skating style, it just clicks together very well.
“And because we don’t speak fluent Russian and fluent English, we don’t have the ability to really fight about anything. It’s very professional on the ice. We know what we want.’’
They have divided their time between Sydney and Moscow for training, and have returned this week to contest the national championships in Melbourne ahead of next year’s world junior championships, where the Pachins predict they will be medal contenders, the first Australia has ever had in pairs figure-skating.
They are meeting today with an immigration lawyer recommended by the Australian Olympic Committee to begin the process of applying for a Distinguished Talent Visa so Alexandrovskaya can stay in Australia.
“It’s a good chance for me to keep skating,’’ she said.
“Everything is very different here but the weather is nice and people are smiling all the time.’’
Windsor has Aboriginal heritage on both sides of his family and said he would dearly love to be the first indigenous Winter Olympian, but for that he needs a partner.