It does not snow in the Philippines, being a tropical country. It doesn’t rain ice, either (except on very rare occurences in Baguio City and other areas). But with built-in ice skating rinks at choice SM malls, many young people have taken the sport seriously. Individual and team players have made good impressions in international events.
None have qualified for the Winter Olympics, though, until Michael Christian Martinez of Muntinlupa City ranked 7th in the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy held last September 25-28 in Obersdorf, Germany. The Nebelhorn Trophy was the last qualifying event for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Prior to the Nebelhorn ranking, Michael was Champion in the Crystal Skate 2012 in Brasov, Romania and seventh placer in the first Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. He’s 19th in the International Skating Union (ISU) Season’s Best World Rankings.
He debuted in the Junior Grand Prix series in the 2010–2011 season. He trains mostly in Manila but spends a lot of time in California under Russian 1995 World Junior titlist and 1998 Olympic champion Ilia Kulik and British coach John Nicks.
As SM pride, the 17-year-old, who’s putting college on hold in favor of his favorite sport, received P1-million from SM Ice Skating as support for his Olympic dream. The check was released by SM FECI senior vice president Manuel Atacador Jr. and SM Ice Skating division manager Raymund Retumban with Philippine Skating Union president Pocholo Veguillas and Michael’s mom Maria Theresa in attendance.
Michael said that ice skating is expensive and he regularly spends about $100 per hour for the services of his coach alone. He is considered as the youngest and most accomplished senior level skater from the Philippines, having collected a total of 194 medals and trophies since 2005.
SM Ice Skating said they saw the potential of Martinez, a home-grown talent, so they “took the lead in supporting his endeavors and will upkeep his tournaments as the young achiever continues to give glory to the country.”
The Winter Olympics started in 1924. The Philippines has joined 3 times since its inception–1972, 1988 and 1992. After 22 years of absence, the Philippines is again part of the Olympic Winter Games. And the country has high hopes in Michael Christian Martinez.
(Sources: Wikipedia, ABS-CBNnews.com, GMA 7’s KMJS and Michael Christian Martinez’s Facebook page)