Australia’s current Junior World Pair Figure Skating Champions Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya (NSWIS Campaign PyeongChang) and Harley Windsor (NSWIS Campaign PyeongChang) struck their fourth career gold medal and fifth podium in Estonia last week, returning to the scene of their first Junior gold medal last year in Tallinn.
The Tallinn Trophy is part of the senior ten-event International Skating Union’s Challenger Series and will accrue additional world standings points and experience for the up and coming team going in the PyeongChang Olympics next February. The ISU Challenger Series sits underneath the top tier Grand Prix series of events, which includes the best athletes in the World.
After a dazzling short program the previous night highlighted by a soaring triple twist and an effortless lift at speed that scored the Sydney-based team a PB of 66.80, the free program, which sealed their first senior international gold medal, was harder work.
Last to skate and performing to the soundtrack from The Mask, the opening of the free program was heavy going with difficulties on both side-by-side solo triple jumps but they worked the 4.30 minute program to the end with strength and determination.
“It’s our first senior gold. That’s cool,” Windsor said.
“We were pretty confident going into the short and were doing clean run throughs in training whether we were feeling good or bad. We’re happy that our program component scores are going up – giving us extra points. We got mid sevens here, whereas last comp it was high sixes, so it’s a decent jump,” Windsor said.
Harley Windsor training with NSWIS Strength & Conditioning provider Zsolt Zsomber. Credit: Getty Images
Alexandrovskaya, ever the perfectionist, was happy with their short.
“It was season’s best, but little bits were wrong. The toe loop wasn’t perfect like we can do. All elements were not bad.”
Scoring 112.50 points and well under their best for the free program, Windsor and Alexandrovskaya were able to amass an overall total of 178.90 points, well ahead of second placed Alisa Efimova and Alexander Korovin from Russia on 162.62. Third went to another Russian pair, Anastasia Poluianova and Dmitry Sopot on 161.60.
“We didn’t have a practice on the day, just the six-minute warm up,” Windsor said.
“When I do practice in the morning it gets my muscles activated and without that it was hard. Our senior pairs free program isn’t exactly easy.”
Alexandrovskaya intends to learn from the experience.
“We didn’t have skating for one full day – 24 hours. Of course, it (the win) is good points for us, especially with so many mistakes in the program. It was not perfect. I like to check mentally my jumps, throws and lifts in practice,” she said.
The senior Challenger gold medal follows their Junior Grand Prix win in Poland last month and bronze in the Senior Olympic Qualifying Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany in late September.
Transitioning to senior ranks during the season has entailed switching between junior and senior programs at alternating international events. Next up for Australia’s history-making pair will be the prestigious Junior Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan from December 7 to 10, which will mark the end of their ground-breaking junior career before a solid push to PyeongChang.
“This will be one hard week between here (Tallin) and the Junior Grand Prix Final (JGPF). Of course we will work hard,” said Alexandrovskaya.
“It’s going to be a hell of lot easier than a senior program. I’m looking forward to that. Now that we have pretty good results this season so far, we are more experienced than last year and events like the JGPF are no longer an intimidating thought,” Windsor added.
Credit: Getty Images
PyeongChang is less than 80 days away and this young team’s expectations are in check.
“We do not expect to get a medal but want to skate two good programs in Korea,” they both said.
“Our transition from Junior is going well and we look more mature on the ice, stronger and more senior. In the free program here, we again got a level 4 for the twist but this time with +3s for the grade of execution,” said Windsor.
“Just do what we can and a perfect skate for us. We can’t have a medal, but we can skate good and clean,” Alexandrovskaya said of PyeongChang.
In their international career to date Windsor and Alexandrovskaya have made the podium five times with four golds in a mix of top tier Junior events and Challenger level senior competitions – Junior Grand Prix Tallinn 2016, Junior World Championships 2017, Junior Grand Prix Gdansk 2017, Tallinn Trophy Senior Challenger 2017 and bronze Nebelhorn Trophy Senior Challenger 2017.
The Australian Olympic figure skating team of Brendan Kerry, Kailani Craine, Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor were named to PyeongChang earlier this month, with Windsor making world-wide news as Australia’s first indigenous Winter Olympian to be selected.
article courtesy Belinda Noonan, OWIA.