Australia’s first Indigenous winter Olympian, figure skater Harley Windsor, is due to arrive in South Korea today ahead of his history-making turn on the ice with competition partner and former Russian skater Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya.
The hopes of Indigenous Australia — and the nation — rest on the shoulders of the 21-year-old from Rooty Hill in western Sydney.
Windsor, the accidental skater who came to the sport by chance, is the first Indigenous Australian athlete to compete in the winter games, which were first held in 1924 for sports practiced on snow and ice.
The 2018 Winter Olympics open in the South Korean capital PyeongChang on Friday and run until February 25.
The figure skating competitions — in which Windsor and Alexandrovskaya will compete as a pair — kick off on day one of the games.
Windsor and Alexandrovskaya are the current junior world pairs champions.
A spokesperson for the Australian skating team said Windsor would settle into the Olympic Village as soon as he touched down. He will stay in the city of Gangneun with the rest of the ice sports team.
Windsor and Alexandrovskaya come into the games on the back of a silver medal in the recent Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei.
They were the first Australians to receive a senior championships medal at the Taipei meet, which ended on January 28.
The spokesperson said Windsor and Alexandrovskaya would have time to train on the Olympics competition rink before competing.
Windsor’s parents Josie Windsor, who is of Weilwyn and Gamilaraay descent, and Peter Dahlstrom, a Gamilaraay and Ngarrable man, aren’t in South Korea but will be cheering on their son from home.
The Olympic Games provides a fairytale new chapter in the sporting journey that began for Windsor when, as an eight-year-old and one of nine children, he spotted an ice rink when his mum took a wrong turn.
His story has now captivated the world.
“I got into figure skating by accident,” he says. “I took a wrong turn with my mum and I found Blacktown Ice Rink and asked if I could go in and everything kind of took off from there,” Windsor told the ABC.
Windsor’s talent soon became apparent as he trained under Russian-born couple Andrei and Galina Pachin at the Canterbury Ice Rink.
In 2015, unable to find Windsor a suitable pairs partner in Australia, the Pachins turned to Russia and discovered 15-year-old Alexandrovskaya, who now has Australian citizenship.
In the early days, the couple communicated through the coaches as Alexandrovskaya didn’t understand English.
The pair made its international debut at the Junior Grand Prix in Czech Republic in 2016.
They are hoping for a top-12 finish at their first Olympic Games.
4 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT WINDSOR
- His nickname is Harlz.
- He trains in Moscow and Sydney.
- Superstitious, the young skater always puts his left skate on first and puts his right leg in his pants before his left leg.
- He lists his parents as the most influential people in his life.