The Australian Olympic Committee confirmed on Friday the death of figure skater Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya in Moscow. She was 20 years old. The cause of death was not disclosed as of Friday, but Alexandrovskaya's former partner, Harley Windsor, posted a tribute to her on Instagram.
"Words can not describe how I feel right now, I am devastated and sick to my core about the sad and sudden passing of Katia," Windsor wrote. "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."
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Alexandrovskaya was born in Russia, but she obtained Australian citizenship in 2016. She partnered with Windsor and competed during the 2017 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei, winning the gold medal. They also competed together during the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. The pair finished 18th while Sui Wenjing and Han Cong won the gold for China.
Alexandrovskaya retired from figure skating in February after sustaining several injuries. Her coach, Andrei Khekalo, said that she was also diagnosed with epilepsy earlier this year. "She was fearless. She was like a fish in the water," Khekalo said, following Alexandrovskaya's death.
Ian Chesterman, chef de mission for the Australian team in Pyeongchang, reacted to the news and said that it is devastating for anyone who knew Alexandrovskaya. He said that this is yet another blow to the winter sports community in Australia. Two-time world champion snowboarder Alex Pullin drowned during a spearfishing accident on July 8.
"It is enormously sad to lose Katia, who was a vibrant and talented person and an incredible athlete," Chesterman said, per the Associated Press. "She was quiet and humble in her manner but incredibly determined to be the best she could be. Life since the Games has not been easy for her and this is another timely reminder of just how fragile life is. Katia's death is another blow to our winter sports community who are still reeling from our loss of 'Chumpy' Pullin."
Geoff Lipshut, chief executive of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia, spoke about the impact that Alexandrovskaya made on the winter sports community. He said that she will always have a special place in Australia's sports history. Along with Windsor, she brought a championship to Australia.
"Katia and Harley were Australia's first figure skating world champions," Lipshut said. "She came to Australia to fulfill 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."