Shock waves and delight reverberated around the figure skating world for Australian pair skaters Harley Windsor and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya when they became the Junior World Pair Skating Champions.
Indigenous skater Harley, from Western Sydney, and his Moscow-born partner Katia were hoping for a podium finish, beginning their Junior Worlds campaign with a clean short program and PB, finding themselves in third and within two points of the leaders.
Skating first in the final group for the free program, the Australians delivered a soaring, perfectly executed triple twist to open then side-by-side triple jumps, throw triple flip and fast, complex lifts.
The ease and confidence with which they attacked the four-minute program shone through scoring a PB for 104.16 for a total of 163.98 points – making them a hard act to follow for the remaining three teams from China and Russia.
"I'm shocked that we got first place, it's crazy to put Australia in the scene for skating and we're over the moon about the gold medal, I can't put it into words," Harley said.
An ecstatic Katia added: "I can't believe it".
For the first time, the Australian flag was raised to the top in an ISU Figure Skating Championship, sending a strong message to other young Australian figure skaters that anything is possible.
The Australian team in the stands witnessed history and sang the national anthem for the first time, with many – including ice dancer Matlida Friend, in tears.
A day and many press interviews later the pair headlined the Exhibition Gala skating to Peter Allen’s “I Still Call Australia Home”, which was followed by the closing banquet, where the team were honoured yet again by being invited to deliver a ‘thank you’ speech on behalf of all athletes.
The expressive youngster made it into the final 24 out of 44 competitors at her first Junior World Championship with a beautiful short program, which earned her 20th place. Her free program scored 74.87 points for a total 123.11 points.
Despite suffering a fall in the free program warm-up in which she injured her hand, the youngster battled through.
“I was really excited to compete at my first junior world championships,” Holly said after the event.
“It has been an amazing experience. I really wanted to make the freeskate to be able to earn more opportunities for Australia in the Junior Grand Prix series next season."
Holly’s final placement ensures more Australian junior ladies will have the opportunity to compete in the Junior Grand Prixs next season.
"I was happy with my short program, it wasn't perfect, but I was happy I took the chance to open with the triple lutz/double toe combination and that worked well. But I was disappointed with how I skated my free,"
"I'm looking forward to returning to Australia now for a short break to refresh, then back to training to work hard with my coach Tom to improve for next season.”
Skating to ‘One More Night’, ice dancers Matilda Friend (17) and William Badaoui (18) delivered their best Short Dance of the season posting a massive boost to their PB by over five points to 40.24 and a lift in their world ranking.
The final cut of twenty dance teams in a 31-team field for the Free Dance was always going to be a big ask for the Sydney dance team and they gave it their best, placing 25th.
The Sapporo Asian Winter Games experience was put to good use in Taipei with both skaters exuding a more attacking style.
“It was not a perfect skate but we’re stoked with a PB,” Matilda said from Taipei.
National Junior Men’s Champion James Min (16) also collected a PB for his short program, scoring 53.72 but landing errors on his triple/triple combo and triple loop cost him a place in the top 24 final free skate and he had to settle for 29th in a 45-trong field.