"Harley & Katya" documentary

Sylvia

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Based on the comments from those who have watched this new documentary (starting here in the Australian news thread: https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/threads/australian-skating-news.98953/page-55#post-6354736), I thought it was worth creating a separate thread for higher visibility and, hopefully, constructive discussion if/when more people are able to watch it.

Preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgZUh-8SWbo
Australia’s first Indigenous Winter Olympian Harley Windsor and Russian born Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, an unlikely pair of figure skaters who found great success on the ice, but also met great tragedy. Their story reveals the price paid by athletes in the quest for Olympic gold.

A VPN currently is needed to watch outside of Australia (registration of a free ABC.net Account also required):

More details on the content (article before the film premiered earlier today in Australia):
Figure skating is particularly dangerous for females. They are the ones flung into the air while performing acrobatics, which makes them most at risk of injuries, including concussion.
In February 2018, Harley and Katya finish a disappointing eighteenth in Korea.
Katya is asked to leave the Pachin household because of her drinking. She refuses to be coached by Andrei any longer.
With the pair being touted as a medal chance for the 2022 Games, the OWIA provides additional funding – and a plan to send Katya and Harley to Montreal for training. The move is not a great success. Injuries plague Harley on their return and the OWIA withdraws two-thirds of their funding.
Katya collapses in early 2020, not for the first time. She is diagnosed with epilepsy and told to give up skating. Her physical condition has been weakened by diuretic pills, energy drinks and alcohol.
In July 2020, the unthinkable happens.

From one Australian viewer: https://twitter.com/JackHigh4/status/1602263744142155777
"Harley and Katya is far and away in the top category of @ABCTV production. Brilliant examination of so many cultural,sport, health and social issues. The triumphs and tragedy of two young people passionately pursuing their chosen sport against so many odds. Must watch ABC Iview."
 
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Sylvia

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Behind the scenes content shared by the director, Selina Miles, in 2 posts: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmDrUuiI5ZP/
... This film was the definition of a team effort, there wasn’t a day that someone went above and beyond to bring this story to life. Words can’t express how grateful I am to this wonderful group of filmmakers. 💕
https://www.instagram.com/p/Clzvq7ovrdt/
A complex story of two amazingly talented young athletes, told thanks to the brave testimony of many that were close to them. ...
It’s been an emotional journey directing this film over the past year and a half. Huge thanks to our incredible crew who are listed below in the comments. Thanks to @strangerthanfictionfilms and co-writer @blaykeh1 [Blayke Hoffman] for bringing me on board, to @simon_njoo_one_egg for your brilliant editing and to @h_d22 & family for your trust. Some frames from the film by cinematographer @maxwellwalter.
 

PRlady

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I hope Acorn picks it up. We subscribe to get lots of UK and Aussie content.

But it looks devastating.
 

Sylvia

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Re-posting @Trillian's comment here because I think it's an important point:
I think this is true of many other elite sports as well, but considering how young most elite skaters are, it’s really important to be aware of the role that parents or other immediate family play for most of them. It’s not just a matter of covering a skater’s financial needs when the family can’t. Parents also take care of so many day-to-day logistics for the majority of elite skaters, and when they can’t do that for whatever reason, anyone wanting to support a young skater needs to understand the necessity of having someone (besides the coach!) to fill that role instead. As expensive as elite skating is, these kids need so much support beyond just financial help. No matter how much money is thrown at them, it’s going to be inadequate without the rest of that infrastructure.
 

~tapdancer~

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Was heartbreaking to remember this again. What a lovely team and a tragic story.
 

airgelaal

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What Nina Moser said is just disgusting. I mean, for good results, athletes have to come from a family with problems. Katya, who was already traumatized by the death of her father, was told that sport was the only way out for her in life. What was she supposed to think about when things didn't work out? And when she was told that she would no longer be able to skate?
Yes, sport is a social lift for many. But this is not the only way in life. Children's and junior sports should not be focused on quads, but on a healthy attitude towards sports.
And it disgusts me to read many comments about the Grand Prix final in pairs. Especially in juniors. How can you call them mediocre losers and belittle their talents simply because someone does not like the level of their skating. Are all the achievements at the cost of injuries really worth it? Even when it's kids?
Athletes are people, not machines that can be thrown away when they break.
 
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Bunny Hop

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The issues covered in it I think are important for our sport overall.
Agree.

I think the big question now is whether any lessons were learnt. I heard all the stuff at the end of the doco about protections now in place that didn't previously exist, but whether they would actually be effective if a similar situation were to arise remains to be proven.
 

Aussie Willy

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Agree.

I think the big question now is whether any lessons were learnt. I heard all the stuff at the end of the doco about protections now in place that didn't previously exist, but whether they would actually be effective if a similar situation were to arise remains to be proven.
I do know ISA have been doing a lot of work on Sport Integrity and implemented policies in this regard.

Our biggest problem in our sport is the volunteer workforce. Everyone involved in running the sport is a volunteer and unpaid. However it is the lowest form of control when it comes to standards, following policies and procedures and being able to manage the sport. When everyone has full time jobs and then doing the additional work required to run a sport it is difficult to manage and apply the same degree of due diligence you would if you were paid. The contradiction to this is skaters pay a small fortune to be participants. So the people who don't get paid manage people who are paying a lot of money.

On the other hand, after I had a coach complain to me about how much they earnt and it was an excuse for something which was not up to standard, my response was "Well I get paid 70% lower than market rate for my full time job but I am still expected to give 100%". Same principle apply.

And under Health and Safety legislation all non-profits are only required to have an ethical consideration to health and safety, not legal. But if the sports took it more seriously it could be a more effective consideration in managing issues like what we saw in the doco. We give something like bullying a free pass because we don't have a legal obligation to take it seriously. I have seen a person's behaviour excused because when they behaved in an unacceptable way, it was just brushed aside as "Don't worry they are like that to everyone don't take it personally".

I hope this adds something to this thread.
 
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MacMadame

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It's definitely harder to have standards when everyone is a volunteer. I was in charge of an event where a volunteer went off on a parent to the point that kids around them were scared. Our response was to not let that person volunteer anymore. However, my experience with skating is that a lot of toxic behavior like that is excused instead.
 

Alilou

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If this hasn't already been posted, here is a link to what is essentially a play-by-play of the documentary.

I'm in Oz ATM and watched it, but really appreciated reading this the next day to get a clearer understanding of the unfolding of events. I didn't always understand all the references to the various Aussie governing bodies, or even that Greg Merriman became their coach for a while (I recognized his face but not who it was). I was glad to get a much deeper understanding of the whole situation, but found the doc went a bit fast for someone who's not an Aussie or who hasn't lived there for more years than I can remember. So this is a good article to read as an adjunct to the doc. Truly tragic all round. Poor girl - she had no support system, not of the kind that really mattered. 😢
 

Aussie Willy

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I'm in Oz ATM and watched it, but really appreciated reading this the next day to get a clearer understanding of the unfolding of events. I didn't always understand all the references to the various Aussie governing bodies, or even that Greg Merriman became their coach for a while (I recognized his face but not who it was). I was glad to get a much deeper understanding of the whole situation, but found the doc went a bit fast for someone who's not an Aussie or who hasn't lived there for more years than I can remember. So this is a good article to read as an adjunct to the doc. Truly tragic all round. Poor girl - she had no support system, not of the kind that really mattered. 😢
Where are you? :)
 

Bunny Hop

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Our biggest problem in our sport is the volunteer workforce. Everyone involved in running the sport is a volunteer and unpaid. However it is the lowest form of control when it comes to standards, following policies and procedures and being able to manage the sport. When everyone has full time jobs and then doing the additional work required to run a sport it is difficult to manage and apply the same degree of due diligence you would if you were paid.
I would also add that it's an uphill battle for volunteers with full time day jobs to push against the forces of inertia and resistance to change, even where they want to apply the same due diligence as they do in their full time professions.
 
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Aussie Willy

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Canberra. You down south still? Here til mid Feb in case you're up this way. Would love to reconnect.
Enjoying living in Hobart. I was in Canberra in September judging. But not making any trips interstate for a while. It would be great to catch up.
 

Milan

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What Nina Moser said is just disgusting. I mean, for good results, athletes have to come from a family with problems. Katya, who was already traumatized by the death of her father, was told that sport was the only way out for her in life. What was she supposed to think about when things didn't work out? And when she was told that she would no longer be able to skate?
Yes, sport is a social lift for many. But this is not the only way in life. Children's and junior sports should not be focused on quads, but on a healthy attitude towards sports.
And it disgusts me to read many comments about the Grand Prix final in pairs. Especially in juniors. How can you call them mediocre losers and belittle their talents simply because someone does not like the level of their skating. Are all the achievements at the cost of injuries really worth it? Even when it's kids?
Athletes are people, not machines that can be thrown away when they break.

My interpretation of Nina's comments is that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be driven/hungry to succeed - I do no think this is entirely unfair. This would be more true in Russia I'd think for social mobility, given what the state provides successful athletes. Also, it might be perceived as callous given the tragic end to Katia's life, but we don't know how the original question was put to her.

But the silver lining here is that Katia's passing sheds light on the true mental toll experienced by young athletes, particularly those who are political pawns. It was so tragic that her mental health and wellbeing was disregarded by the key players who saw her as merely a medal making machine. It appears to me, not much emphasis was placed on her assimilating into Australian society - no need for a very demanding English language tests (it's often the case even those who work in Australia for 5+ years still fail these tests and cannot proceed from Permanent Resident to Citizen) which would usually be a prerequisite for citizenship, and she was clearly frustrated at the inability to answer questions from the media. Living in Australia with no language skills and ability to meaningfully connect with anyone around her, would have made it a very alienating and lonely experience, with the added layer of her own personal trauma, it was evident she would have been heading down a very destructive path, very quickly.
 
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