The international meteoric rise of Sydney-based pairs figure skater Harley Windsor since September 2016 culminating in his selection as Australia’s first Indigenous Winter Olympian in November 2017 for the 2018 PyeongChang Games has been described as a “golden wave”.
Harley Dahlstrom-Windsor lives with his parents in Rooty Hill, a western Sydney suburb. He began skating at eight years of age when he saw an ice rink in Blacktown when he was at a McDonalds restaurant.
He is of Australian Aboriginal descent, has eight siblings and has been active in the indigenous community since he was young, including traditional dance and art.
His mother, Josie Winsor, is from the Weilwyn and Gamilaraay people, and his father, Peter Dahlstrom, is of Gamilaraay and Ngarrable descent.
Harley’s early skating career, whilst promising but with continual growth spurts, was not suited to singles skating and his husband and wife coaches Andrei and Galina Pachin began preparing a young Harley as a pair skater.
Several partnerships with local skaters did not work out and Harley was on the verge of quitting figure skating until the Pachins took the bold step of looking for a partner in Moscow at the world-renowned coach Nina Mozer’s school.
19-year-old Windsor jumped on a plane to Moscow in late 2015 to try out with three girls, but from the beginning Andrei Pachin was convinced that the then 15-year-old Ekaterina (Katia) Alexandrovskaya was a perfect match in technique and body line.
The acceleration of their pair skills and technique in a few weeks in Moscow was swift. At that time, Alexandrovskaya did not understand English, with communication through their coach or by hand signals.
Alexandrovskaya first came to Sydney in January 2016 and the pair began training in earnest, passing required national qualification tests and preparing for their first Australian interstate event – the Hollins Trophy, in June 2016.
The Russian Skating Federation officially released Alexandrovskaya and the Australian pair skating team of Windsor and Alexandrovskaya was official in July, 2016. The duo split their training between Sydney and Moscow, citing benefits for both locations.
Their eighth-place international debut at the Junior Grand Prix Czech Skate in September 2016 was a hint of what was to come.
Two months later, the pair won Australia’s first ISU Junior Grand Prix gold medal in Tallinn, Estonia, then placed sixth in a senior event in Finland, qualifying the team into the 2017 World Championships.
In December 2016, Windsor and Alexandrovskaya again made history becoming the first Australian skaters to qualify for the International Skating Union Junior Grand Prix Final. Travelling directly from their first national title win in Melbourne to France, the pair placed a creditable fifth in the same week.
Stepping up to their first senior ISU Championship season combined with junior events, Windsor and Alexandrovskaya took on a busy competition schedule in February and March 2017, beginning with the ISU Four Continents Championship against many of the world’s best senior pairs in the Olympic test event in Gangneug, South Korea, placing 11th.
They followed their senior championship debut the following month with an historic win at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Taipei City, creating world-wide news.
Later in March 2017 at the 2017 World Championships, the Australian pair made the final and placed 16th in a power-packed field.
Their 2017/18 season began in Riga, Latvia with a fourth place in their opening Junior Grand Prix and was followed by the Olympic Qualification event – Nebelhorn Trophy, in Germany for which only five qualifying spots were available in a large field.
Windsor and Alexandrovskaya executed the performances of the careers to date, producing outstanding short and free programs placing third overall behind the European Champions and World silver medallists but importantly as the first place qualifiers to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.
Gold was again won at their second Junior Grand Prix in October in Gdansk, qualifying the Australians to the second Junior Grand Prix Final, to be held in early December 2017.
Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya was granted Australian citizenship on October 19, 2017.
Q & A
Proudest moment: First place at Junior World Championships 2017
I began my sport in ... 2006 because I found an ice rink by mistake
When I am not training or competing I am playing games
I enjoy my sport because I travel the world and love the excitement of competitions
Education: High School
Favourite international competition: Junior Worlds
Favourite Food: Anything meat
Favourite Music: Depends on my mood. I like everything
Favourite other sport to watch or play. Rugby League
Favourite sporting team Manly Sea Eagles
My hero is Dead Pool
Sponsors: NSWIS, John Wilson, EDEA, Canterbury Ice Rink
Childhood Ambition: I really wanted to be a postman
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