Winter Olympics community reeling after triple tragedy

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin, Lara van Ruijven and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, pictured here before their tragic deaths.
Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin, Lara van Ruijven and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya all died within two weeks. Image: Getty

For the third time in just two weeks the Winter Olympics community is mourning the death of a young star.

Aussie ice skater Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya died in Russia on Friday, just two weeks after compatriot Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin drowned while spearfishing on the Gold Coast.

HAUNTING: Final text messages from Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin

SO SAD: Devastating scenes at beach where Chumpy died

In between Alexandrovskaya and Pullin’s tragic deaths, Dutch speed skater Lara van Ruijven died after losing her battle with an autoimmune disease at 27.

Alexandrovskaya was just 20, while Pullin was 32.

Alexandrovskaya won the 2017 world junior championship alongside Harley Windsor and competed with him at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang where they finished 18th.

Alexandrovskaya, who was known as Katia, retired from the sport in February after a series of injuries.

In an emotional Instagram post, Windsor said he was devastated by Alexandrovskaya's death.

“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,” he 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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Winter Olympics community left reeling

The Australian Olympic Committee described the news as a “terrible blow”, while Chef de Mission for the Australian team in North Korea Ian Chesterman said the community was still reeling following the death of Pullin.

“It is enormously sad to lose Katia who was a vibrant and talented person and an incredible athlete,” Chesterman said.

“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.

“Katia's death is another blow to our winter sports community who is still reeling from our loss of Chumpy Pullin.

“But we are a close-knit community that will continue to offer support to each other at this incredibly sad time.”

Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor, pictured here at the Riga Cup ISU Junior Grand Prix in 2017.
Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor at the Riga Cup ISU Junior Grand Prix in 2017. (Photo by Joosep Martinson - International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images)

Pullin is believed to have suffered a ‘shallow-water blackout’ after holding his breath for too long while spearfishing.

He was found unconscious on the sea bed while wearing a weight belt.

Lara van Ruijven’s devastating death

Van Ruijven, a short track skater who won a bronze medal at the 2018 Olympics, was admitted to hospital in Perpignan, France last month after falling ill during a training camp.

She was placed in intensive care and kept in an artificial coma but despite undergoing surgery, her health continued to deteriorate.

“What horrible news we've just received. Her loss will be felt through the whole sporting world,” said Dutch short track coach Jeroen Otter.

“It is an enormous blow for a close-knit group.

“We've missed her over the last two weeks but today's news is so definite and surreal.”

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Van Ruijven won the 500 metres title at the world championships in Sofia last year, and an Olympic bronze medal in the 3000m relay at 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

“We feel the pain for her family and the short track team,” said KNSB director Herman de Haan.

“This is hard to comprehend. On behalf of KNSB I want to wish Lara's friends and family strength with dealing with this great loss.”

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