Australia has qualified its first Olympic figure skating pairs team since 1998 in Harley Windsor from Rooty Hill and his Russian-born partner Katia Alexandrovskaya.
Behind the pair is the coaching duo of Andrei and Galina Pachin – Castle Hill residents of over 20 years, with plenty of experience as competitors and coaches.
Galina said when Windsor, 20, and Katia, 17, first skated together “it was just magic”.
“The way they match with lean bodies together, technically they’re perfectly matching together and look like they’ve been training together since they were young kids,” she said.
“I think it’s also because we have a Russian background and she’s from Russia that we have kind of a similar technique. We did train him this way when we saw he was going to be tall to prepare him for the pairs.
“We tried with a few girls here, but on the first day they skated together in Russia, all the coaches said they looked like they belong together.”
The Pachins have coached several Olympic competitors and Galina has worked with Windsor since he was 10.
After growing too tall for singles, Windsor gave the sport up for five months.
That might have been it until Andrei invited him to Moscow to trial for Russian Olympic champion coach Nina Mozer.
“I said we had a good boy even by Russia standard,” Andrei remembers. “She said to bring him to see if he was good enough.”
Windsor was fairly rusty after some time away from the sport but impressed enough to get a shot to find a Russian partner.
“Professional people can see the talent straight away,” Andrei said. “You can make mistakes but they can see the skill.”
He soon skated with Katia and the rest is history.
In March, the pair claimed the World Junior Championship before sealing an Olympic berth earlier this month with a bronze medal at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.
The Pachins have been in Australia for 25 years, first visiting the country as part of a show before moving to Bendigo for two years to work at the ice staking centre.
The pair moved to Melbourne and then to Sydney, settling in Castle Hill in 1996.
Despite having worked with Windsor for a long time, Galina admits it is a difficult sport to get boys interested in, especially in Australia.
“Look at Harley and, how many times has he wanted to quit skating, and I had to talk to him and explain to him and look how it worked out,” she said.
With Kailani Craine qualifying for Olympic ladies singles and Brendan Kerry qualifying in the mens, Australia is also eligible for the Olympic team event.