The amazing story of the 20-year-old indigenous man and his Moscow-born 17-year-old partner has grabbed attention world-wide since they burst onto the international scene last September, won a gold medal and capped off their junior season ten days ago by claiming the biggest prize of all – the Junior World Pair Skating Championship against much higher ranked and fancied teams.
Coming down off such a high and re-preparing for the all-important 2017 World Championship in the largest pairs field assembled in recent memory, will not be easy but this Aussie pair are up for yet another challenge.
The short program is vital because only sixteen pairs of the 28 entered will make it through to the final free program – and 16 Olympic qualification quota places by nation is what is at stake for all 28 pairs.
“It was hard to come down off Junior Worlds,” said Windsor from Moscow where the duo prepared for the upcoming event.
“The comps take it out of you. We had two days off – sort of – because had the exhibition gala to do at Junior Worlds.”
“When we got back to Moscow from Taipei, we arrived in the morning and trained in the afternoon.”
The hype surrounding the pair is understandable. To have achieved such a confident, trusting bond that is evident to casual watchers of figure skaters, let alone the experts - in only fourteen months, is a testament to their hard work and talent.
Magnificently executed lifts and triple jumps, twists and throws at high speed is only one component of what makes this pair equal to their competitors. The accelerated growth in their performance skills is probably what is the most surprising.
Matching lines, extension, emotion, trust and the desire to perform has developed rapidly from one competition to the next. Serious-minded Katia is comfortable on the big stage and the more laid-back, pragmatic Harley is where he wants to be. It shows.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Harley said of the past ten days. “I keep thinking… wow – we won Junior Worlds. Then I think about Worlds coming up and I do get a bit nervous, just because it is Worlds.”
“Then part of me is like, we’ve done so many comps all season that this is just one more. All we have to do is just try to qualify in the short and then whatever happens in the free, happens.”
The #WorldFigure Skating Championships begin this Wednesday with the Ladies Short program with Australia’s Kailani Craine looking to qualify into the top 24, followed by the Pairs Short.