By Hiromu Namiki / Japan News Staff Writer PYEONGCHANG — Although figure skater Harley Windsor is still just 21, the first indigenous Australian to compete in the Winter Olympics already has the resolve to become a role model.
Windsor makes his Olympic debut on Wednesday in the pairs short program with Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, who was born in Russia and has Australian citizenship.
The up-and-coming pair won the World Junior Championships in 2017 and finished sixth in the ISU Four Continents Championships last month.
“I have grown up in an Aboriginal community all my life,” Windsor, whose parents both have Aboriginal roots, said at a press conference in Pyeongchang.
“I have always done Aboriginal dancing since I could walk. When I was growing up, it was pretty much all I knew.”
“It’s such a big part of my culture. I have always embraced it throughout school and skating.”
Windsor’s idol in his young days was Cathy Freeman, the indigenous Australian sprinter who won the gold medal in the women’s 400 meters at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics.
“I remember very clearly the 2000 Olympics. I was 4 years old. Her being indigenous was a big inspiration,” Windsor said.
Just like Freeman had a huge impact on Windsor, he now wants to encourage indigenous children to take up figure skating and other winter sports.
“I really want to be a role model to encourage other people that it is possible to do these games,” he said. “It’s not easy, but it’s definitely do-able.”
Wrong turn proves right
Windsor began figure skating “by accident.” When he was a child, his mother took a wrong turn while driving, and they found an ice rink.
The young Windsor asked his mother to take him inside.
“I really liked it, and asked if I could go back the next week, and the next week,” Windsor recalled.
As a young skater, he struggled to find the right partner. He flew to Moscow on the advice of his Russian coaches, and met Alexandrovskaya in 2015.
She was the first female skater Windsor met in Russia, but he was convinced that he had finally found his partner — so much so that he didn’t even try skating with other female skaters while there.
Windsor and Alexandrovskaya quickly developed chemistry, winning the junior world championship last year.
Windsor trained in Japan before heading to South Korea for the Winter Games. He said he liked Japan “very much” and said Japanese skaters, such as Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno, “are amazing — they train really hard.
“Their performance is excellent. I really enjoy watching Yuzuru and Shoma,” he added.
Windsor said he is enjoying the atmosphere at his first Olympics. “Everything is very exciting, everything looks amazing,” he said.
Windsor said he is not thinking too much about a medal, as that could negatively impact his performance. The young skater said he and Alexandrovskaya are focusing on skating “the best we can right now.”Speech