A figure skater who plunged six floors to her death from a Moscow balcony left a heartbreaking note – but her mentor claims she didn’t kill herself on purpose.
Ekaterina ‘Katya’ Alexandrovskaya, a Russian-Australian Olympian, was found below the apartment building she lived in with her mother in Moscow on July 17.
Police declared the 20-year-old’s shocking death a suicide after a note written by the skater was found, which simply read, ‘I love’.
The Winter Olympian’s mother was reportedly so distressed by her daughter’s sudden death that she had to be hospitalised for shock.
However, Alexandrovskaya’s skating mentor, Belinda Noonan, a former Australian figure-skating champion, does not believe she killed herself.
‘At the absolute bottom of my soul, do I think she purposely went out that window? No I don’t and I still don’t,’ Ms Noonan told The Australian.
‘Do I think there could have been an episode? I think that could have been because she was diagnosed with epilepsy in January. I have those Russian medical reports.’
When Alexandrovskaya was living in Sydney she was struggling with her father’s death, which led to her drinking heavily.
She also struggled to make ends meet as her mother was unable to support her and she would often sleep on friends’ couches following funding cuts to ice skating.
She then got a job at Canterbury Ice Rink, where she helped with children’s parties and was happy to make new friends.
Ms Noonan said each time they went out she would make sure to take Alexandrovskaya to the supermarket and buy groceries to ensure she was eating.
When rumours began circulating that Alexandrovskaya was showing up to training hungover, Ms Noonan immediately took her to a clinical psychologist.
A few months later in January, she texted Ms Noonan to let her know she wasn’t going to training because she was feeling unwell.
It was there she was diagnosed with epilepsy after being monitored for two weeks and was told she was not allowed to skate anymore.
‘I don’t want to stop skating,’ she protested. ‘It’s not that bad.’
Friends said Alexandrovskaya fell into a deep depression after she was forced to quit the sport last year due to her diagnosis.
Friends also said the Russian-born star found the coronavirus lockdown crushing at a time when she was also trying to forge a new life back in Russia.
Leaving the sport at such a young age also devastated her finances, with one report on Russia’s Channel 5 claimed she had been ‘forced to work in a strip club’ to make ends meet.
A female friend named Veronika said Alexandrovskaya had been depressed in the period leading to her death.
The pair had recently spoken on the phone and Veronika said she got the impression ‘Katia could not find herself’.
‘She felt lonely. I supported her as best I could… but due to circumstances I could not devote much time to her, which I regret now. I was due to meet her the other day,’ she said.
Veronica said that Alexandrovskaya had hoped to be able to return to the sporting world she loved.
‘She wanted to return to big sport, but did not know how to do it,’ she said.
Five years ago she suddenly lost her father Dimitri, and since hitting her own crisis had felt his absence more deeply, Veronica said.
Alexandrovskaya former coach Andrei Khekalo said she hadn’t trained since January 10.
‘Then she had an attack. She was put in for an examination, it was before the Championship of the Four Continents,’ he said.
‘It was a very serious competition for Katia and Harley (Windsor), where they had to perform well.
‘Katia did not come to training, because she suffered an epileptic seizure.
‘Her mum was scared, it’s good that she was at home. An ambulance was promptly called, and Katia was examined for two weeks.
‘After that I went to see her doctor, who told me that it was epilepsy.’
The strong recommendation was that she should stop professional sport, he said.
‘I still tried to convince her to perform, but they convinced me that Katia should finish and take up another life,’ he said.
‘She was urged to study and she was a ‘smart girl – I had no doubt that she would get into any university.’
It is unclear if Alexandrovskaya followed this advice, but it is known she tried to get a TV job in Moscow, and failed.
She was in the care of psychologists but treatment had not helped her, it was reported.
Khekalo also added that she previously struggled with sleepwalking.
‘Katia had such cases so at first when I learned about her death, I thought this could be the reason,’ he said.
‘But the note she left, of course, changes everything. I do not know what happened. I have known Katia since the age of four, but I do not understand why this happened.
‘This news, of course, is crushing.
‘I parted normally with her. It is said that she may have had depression.’
He said that he understood the desperation that could come with retiring from a sport before feeling necessarily ready to do so.
‘When I myself finished sport, I thought that my life was over,’ he said. ‘Depression is always present in such cases.
‘But I don’t know what Katia had been doing lately. It is unfortunate that this happened.’
Khekalo said Alexandrovskaya had known no other life than sport, so she had lost her moorings.
‘She ceased to engage in an active life,’ he said.
‘She had daily training, jogging on Saturdays, competitions, and training camps.
‘Imagine, she has all this from an early age. Then she was forced to finish, a decision she made with her mother on medical advice.
‘This pandemic too… People tolerate it in different ways.’
The skater’s former choreographer Andrey Pashin said: ‘I think this was a suicide, not an accident.
‘Reports say she was in a state of alcoholic intoxication, I believe in this version more.’