In a stunning two seasons, Alexandrovskaya (17) and Windsor (21) have come from nowhere on the international figure skating scene to have now captured four gold medals and one bronze and are preparing for the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games next February.
With the Junior Grand Prix Final title within their reach this week in Nagoya, Japan the pair and coach Andrei Pachin articulated their impending move from Junior to Senior ranks, what that means and how their partnership has matured and progressed.
“This season didn’t start so good,” Andrei Pachin said of the pair’s fourth place in their first Junior Grand Prix in September. “Harley and Katia were thinking about how others were thinking about them after winning the Junior World title.”
“Just before Oberstdorf (the Olympic qualifier) they became confident.”
“Even in the last few weeks now, you can see Harley is now really confident and really professional in practise. They are confident about going for the Junior Grand Prix Final title.”
“I could see this confidence in Poland (two weeks ago). They can cope better with little mistakes. One mistake last year would destroy everything. Now they can go through the program – they are very professional.”
In the lead up to the Junior Grand Prix Final in Japan at the end of this week, Pachin said that his team were ready.
“There have been four clean shorts and one clean free program.”
Where Andrei is dogmatic and relentless, Galina is critical of the finer points. Andrei has a global view, Galina looks after detail. The same could be said respectively for Katia and Harley.
It’s not uncommon for Andrei and Katia to have short, sharp explosions whereas Galina and Harley would be in quiet discussion to resolve a training issue.
“Andrei is good for Katia. I’m good for Harley,” Galina says.
It’s that simple.
Andrei is looking to the future.
“I feel like we have to go ahead and look ahead beyond Olympics and Worlds in 2018. The technical luggage we have not will not be enough for next year (beyond this season),” he said.
“For Olympics and Worlds it’s important to get a result to ‘book your place’ for the future.”
The pairing of the unlikely couple is realising a career-long passion for their coaches.
“We weren’t sure it would happen like this. But step by step, it has happened. Now I can see with conditions we have now and the quality we have now we can fight.”
Basking in past results holds no water.
“Last season was last season and that’s already gone. We were World Junior Champions but that’s already last year,” she said in August.
“Communication last year was with hands. (It’s) much better now. I can talk to people. Harley is quiet. I’m much louder. Yes, it’s much better now. I know him.”
Harley’s passion to achieve and learning how to think like a champion will also have a lasting impact at home.
“Last year every competition was a new experience. I learned how to mentally prepare myself for competitions,” Windsor said.
“This year I don’t want to come second. I kinda like the taste of gold.”
When a pair skater girl is repeatedly thrown in excess of ten metres across the ice, the boy is asked to lift multiple times, both land complex jumps and then required to bring emotional power to four minutes of a free program, it takes a special combination of talent and personality to succeed.
Windsor and Alexandrovskaya are normal and do have their occasional spats and then get on with what they want to achieve.
Skating to the Rolling Stone’s ‘Paint It, Black’, Alexandrovskaya explains their short program as “dark and hard music, very strong”.
“It’s more difficult mentally. More transitions, more emotions because we think not just about elements.”
The emotional repertoire required is a challenge they are both willing to achieve and keep building upon.
“Last season the programs were very basic with a focus on us getting to the elements,” Harley said.
“If you want to be a really good senior pair you can’t pick just anything (to skate to). You have to pick something that suits both of us.”
“I like that we can show how we can step up and have variety,” he said.
“As we skate more together and mature, we will show stronger emotions and connections. That’s important to us.”
Katia holds the same view.
“For the free program it’s different music, different style (to the short) from the film Mask. First part is jazz and again jazz in the early second part. Third part is rock and roll. I like more the jazz part, but I love all music.”
Training at the New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) in Sydney’s Olympic Park under a program devised by OWIA’s John Marsden and Zsolt Zsombor from NSWIS has been integral during this all-important season.
“NSWIS has been huge. Especially the altitude training. If we didn’t do NSWIS we wouldn’t be as fit or strong. Week by week we would increase. The weight went up and a little more reps plus the altitude got harder and harder,” Windsor said of their preparation before the Olympic qualifier in September.
“It was smart what Zsolt did - planning it all out and increasing slowly and surely. It’s made us smarter in the way we train and how we prepare.”
Will nerves play a part at the Olympics?
“I don’t do nervous before competitions. Senior is of course mentally harder,” Katia said with a shrug. “I want clean programs and wait for the result. We need just to skate.”
Windsor believes there has been a big shift this season.
“We are both good competitors and we are both good at turning it up a notch when it matters.”
“I’m sure there are far, far better skaters than us but not everyone can compete. But the ones who can turn it on and perform when it counts are the ones who are there at the end.”
The ISU Grand Prix Final and Junior Grand Prix Final for the best six in the world in each discipline is in Nagoya, Japan from December 7 to 10.
Alexandrovskaya and Windsor will compete their short on Thursday, 7 December from 4.10pm (AEDT) and their free program on Friday 8 December from 6pm (AEDT).
A livestream of the Junior Grand Prix Final can be found at https://www.youtube.com/isujuniorgrandprix
More information and results can be found HERE