Former world junior champion Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya dies aged 20
Skating partner Harley Windsor "devastated" at death of Russian-born athlete who represented Australia at PyeongChang 2018
The Russian-born skater died in Moscow on Friday (17th July), according to Russian news agency TASS.
Alexandrovskaya obtained Australian citizenship in 2016 and formed a hugely successful partnership with Harley Windsor, winning the world junior title in 2017 and the 2017/18 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final.
The pair then competed for Australia at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, but split in February 2020 with Windsor citing his partner's health concerns.
Windsor was quick to pay tribute to Alexandrovskaya, saying on social media that he was "devastated and sick" at the news of her "sad and sudden passing".
Two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva also expressed her sadness at Alexandrovskaya's death.
Her message read, "We will miss you, baby. Condolences to the family."
Australia's Chef de Mission at PyeongChang 2018, Ian Chesterman, said, "It is enormously sad to lose Katia who was a vibrant and talented person and an incredible athlete. She was quiet and humble in her manner but incredibly determined to be the best she could be.
"We are all deeply saddened to hear the news today. Life since the Games has not been easy for her and this is another timely reminder of just how fragile life is."
Olympic Winter Institute of Australia CEO Geoff Lipshut reflected on Alexandrovskaya's place in Australia’s winter sport history.
He said, "Katia and Harley were Australia’s first figure skating world champions. She came to Australia to fulfil her sporting dreams.
"The news today is so sad, my thoughts are with Katia’s family in Russia, Harley and the skating community in Australia. I will remember Katia as a young person of great talent and remarkable potential."
The unlikely worldbeaters
The story of how Alexandrovskaya and Windsor came together is a remarkable one.
Coached by Galina and Andrei Pachin in his hometown Sydney, Windsor was unable to find a pairs partner in Australia.
At the prompting of Nina Mozer, who guided Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov to gold at Sochi 2014, he went to Moscow in December 2015 for a try-out with Alexandrovskaya
They gelled immediately with Alexandrovskaya soon switching allegiance to Australia.
Just 10 months later, they had clinched Australia's first ISU Junior Grand Prix in Tallinn, Estonia, beating partnerships from skating powerhouses Russia and the United States.
They continued to improve, edging out future world junior champions and Lausanne 2020 YOG gold medallists Apollinariia Panfilovaand Dmitry Rylov to take the 2016/17 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final.
And then in Taipei City in March 2017, they beat another Russian pairing - Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii - to take the world junior title before finishing 16th at the senior World Championships.
Boikova and Kozlovskii won the senior European title in March this year.
To try and win a quota place for Australia at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, the pair needed a strong finish at the Challenger Series Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf.
They succeeded, taking third place to book their spot in Korea with Windsor becoming the first indigenous Australian to compete at a Winter Olympics.
PyeongChang was something of a disappointment for the duo, with 18th place in the short program seeing them miss out on a spot in the free skate.
But they fared better at the World Championships in Milan, making the free skate and finishing 16th overall.
After moving to Montreal to work under Richard Gauthier and Bruno Marcotte, they struggled in their first senior season with both skaters suffering from injuries and illness.
Windsor's recurring foot problem forced them to miss the Four Continents and the Worlds before they relocated to Sydney for the 2019-20 season.
After taking seventh at Skate America, Alexandrovskaya continued to be dogged by poor health and Windsor announced their split in February.
Alexandrovskaya's figure skating career included two Australian national titles as well as the world junior title, an ISU Junior Grand Prix Final and two ISU Junior Grand Prix regular season victories.
She and Windsor also had two podium finishes in senior Challenger Series event.