The Philippines couldn’t help but cheer for Michael Christian Martinez when he became the first Filipino to be an Olympian in a Winter Games. That was the Olympics held in Sochi, Russia back in 2014. The sole athlete representing our country, he fearlessly challenged other international athletes in men’s figure skating, passing the short program before finishing below the cutoff during the free skate. Since then Martinez has trained diligently and honed his skill in more competitions for four years, in order to return to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang 2018. Unfortunately, his second outing ended quicker than the last.
ABS-CBN News reports that Martinez, 21, was eliminated during the short program phase of the figure skating – men’s singles event that was contested on Friday, February 16. Despite what has been described by observers as a graceful performance, Martinez’ score did not manage to break through to the Top 24 of the competition, which would have at least allowed him to participate in the free skate phase. He was the sixth performer in the qualifying round, and was knocked out of ranking with only three more skaters left to take their turn. As stated, he did better back in Sochi.
For his short program in the men’s singles, Michael Martinez decided to momentarily eschew the new freedom accorded to Olympic figure skaters, that of performing to lyrical music, a ruling that most of Pyeongchang’s Olympians took to wholeheartedly. Rather, he skated to the instrumental tune of “Emerald Tiger” by violinist Vanessa-Mae. With a component score of 29.52 and technical score of 26.04, Martinez racked up 55.56 points, finishing 28th place out of 30 competitors. He would have been able to perform to lyrical song “El Tango de Roxanne” from “Moulin Rouge!” had he at least made it to free skate.
It was a dramatic turn of events for Martinez considering he was not supposed to make it to Pyeongchang after not making the cut at the last Winter Olympic qualifier, the 2017 CS Nebelhorn Trophy. It was only when qualifying country Sweden withdrew that he, as first alternate, was given a chance to compete, leaving him with not as much time to train and prepare as his competition. Martinez had in fact been making plans to retire from figure skating by that point and transition to body building, forcing him to take a crash diet to return to skating form.
Despite the results, Team Philippines chef de mission Tom Carasco assures the Filipino people that, given his condition and circumstances Michael Martinez gave his best performance possible, according to his coach Slava Zagor. Japan was on top of the men’s singles short program, with defending Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu (111.68).
AP Photo/David J. Phillip