Australia’s Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, 20, who tragically died on July 17, 2020, was a talented Pair Skater who, together with her partner Harley Windsor, wrote Figure Skating history for her adopted country.
Born in Moscow (RUS) on January 1, 2000, Ekaterina started skating as a child and trained in the famous CSKA club in her hometown. “My mom took me after she had a dream one night. Near our house, in Moscow, an ice rink opened and my mom took me there. I was about four and a half years old when I started,” she told the ISU website in an interview back in 2017.
Little Katia, as she was affectionally called by family and friends, also tried Rhythmic Gymnastics but eventually focused on Figure Skating. At first she did it more for her mom, but soon fell in love with the sport. Alexandrovskaya’s former Single Skating coaches Inna Goncharenko and Svetlana Sokolovskaia remember her as a talented, determined and cheerful young skater. She then discovered her passion for Pair Skating when she was 11 years old. “Pair skating I think is much more interesting. There are many different elements and I thought it would not be boring at practice. There is support, you have a partner. I didn’t like singles so much, it was only jumps, jumps and the competition was very tough,” she explained.
Alexandrovskaya went to Nina Mozer’s skating school that produced many champions such as Olympic gold medalists Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov and started her career under coach Andrei Hekalo, who would work with her throughout most of her Pair Skating career.
Determination indeed was an important character trait of Ekaterina and you need it, especially in Pair Skating with its difficult and sometimes scary elements such as throws and lifts. And you need to find the right partner, which sometimes can be difficult.
In 2012, she moved to Ukraine to team up with a partner there, but it did not work out and she returned to Moscow after half a year. Back in Mozer’s school, she got a new partner, but the results did not satisfy Ekaterina. “I already wanted to stop, and suddenly Nina Mikhailovna (Mozer) said, there is someone from Australia. At first I didn’t even understand if it was Australia or Austria, but I didn’t really care at this point, I just didn’t want to continue with this (current) partner anymore. My mom and I thought about it for two days and then we decided it is worth to try it,” she said in 2017.
In December 2015, Harley Windsor came to Moscow to try out. “I felt right away that this could work because everything went well from the very beginning,” Ekaterina said. Australia seemed like the end of the world to her, but she was ready to go there to pursue her dream. “It was scary to travel to Australia, a different language, you don’t know anyone and it is far away,” she said. Once she got there, she soon liked the country. Alexandrovskaya/Windsor worked with Russian-born coaches Galina and Andrei Pachin in Australia. However, the practice conditions are much better in Russia, and so the team trained a lot in Moscow in Mozer’s school.
Maxim Trankov remembers Ekaterina as a hard-working young skater and coach Hekalo praised her in an interview with Russian media for her talent. “There are specific elements in Pair Skating, for example lifts and twists – and they were just hers. What others had difficulty to learn, was much easier for her,” Hekalo said. In Windsor, who did not have much experience, but caught up quickly, Alexandrovskaya found a perfect match on the ice.
The duo progressed very fast. In fall 2016, less than a year after taking their first steps together on the ice, Alexandrovskaya/Windsor won the first ISU Junior Grand Prix title for Australia in any discipline in Tallinn (EST). More firsts were to follow: They qualified for the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2016/17 and then claimed the ISU World Junior title in 2017 in Taipei City (TPE), the first ISU Championships title for Australia. There was more to come: In December 2017, Alexandrovskaya/Windsor took gold at the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and went on to compete at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Unfortunately, injury problems affected the pair and they were unable to compete at the ISU World Figure Skating and ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in 2019. They came back in fall 2019 to competing, but in January 2020, Alexandrovskaya was diagnosed with epilepsy, according to coach Hekalo, who coached them again after they had trained for a while in Canada. The doctors advised her to end her competitive skating career. Windsor announced on his Instagram the end of their career as a pair due to health concerns. “It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart to announce that Katia and myself have decided to end our skating career together as a pair. Due to health concerns, Katia and I are unable to continue. I want to take this opportunity to wish Katia all the best in the future and a quick recovery,” he wrote at the time.
Ekaterina’s body was found on Friday (July 17) night and the news was published on Saturday. According to Russian media reports, she fell out of a window and the police suspect suicide.
The skating world reacted with sadness and shock to the news. “Words cannot describe how I feel right now, I am devastated and sick to my core about the sad and sudden passing of Katia. The amount we had achieved during our partnership is something I can never forget and will always hold close to my heart. This news is something you can never prepare for. Rest In Peace Katia,” Harley Windsor wrote on his Instagram account. Many fellow skaters posted photos and comments and expressed their grief over the death of their friend and colleague.
Peter Lynch, President, Ice Skating Australia published a statement as well: “We are deeply saddened to hear of Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya's passing. A brilliant athlete with incredible drive and determination that was nurtured by our friends at the Russian Skating Federation, but then found a new home here in Australia forming an incredible Pair Skating partnership with Australian Harley Windsor. Together they did what many thought impossible, becoming Junior World and Junior Grand Prix Champions before moving onto the Olympic Winter Games. The partnership was developed with visionary Australian coaches Andre and Galina Pachin. Together they created greatness that will rest in the Australian record books for many years. Our heartfelt thoughts and condolences go out to her and Harley’s families. The worldwide sport of Figure Skating mourns your loss.”
A fundraiser was started with the goal to flood Alexandrovskaya's funeral service with flowers as a reminder to her family and friends of the love and joy she brought to all those in Australia and around the world. $3000 of the $10,000 goal will go towards flower arrangements, with the remainder of funds raised to support Alexandrovskaya's family with funeral costs.
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