OLYMPIAN Michael Martinez is slowly finding out that if he wants to improve on his craft, he must take risks.
To become a better figure-skater, he has to work on a new routine and a new jump, which will help him take on new challenges in the second half of the year.
The challenge for Michael is learning how to do the quad jumps with perfection.
Quad jumps are among the most difficult and risky moves in figure skating, wherein skaters must make four revolutions when in mid-air.
“I’m praying about it. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, kaya mo ‘yan,” said the 18-year-old Martinez, who took a break last week to meet with his supporters from the SM Group of Companies.
Currently, Martinez’s ranking has jumped from no. 39th to no. 34th in the world, a position he wants to further improve on as he is set to see action in several international meets, competitions where he would like to include the quad jumps in his routine.
His mother, Teresa Martinez explained that the quad is not required during competition.
But, many of Michael’s rivals are doing it, or are practicing to do it already.
“Mataas ang point niya, but very risky. But if you fail to do it, malaki ang deduction mo sa points,” said Mrs. Martinez.
Aside from the quad jumps, Michael is also focused on perfecting the hip-hop routine, which his coach, Ilia Kulik, is working on back in New Jersey.
Kulik, who has been helping Michael since 2011, is the 1998 Olympic Champion and has also won titles in the 1995 European Championship, the 1997–1998 Grand Prix Finals and was the 1995 World Junior Champion.
“We’re fixing the program, working on the hip-hop routine. I’m happy with the way I skate. It’s getting better,” said Martinez. “My trainer has been very helpful.”
Martinez returned to the country last week after winning the gold medal in the Triglav Trophy in Slovenia for the second time in a row.
Last year, Michael beat Japanese Keiji Tanaka, who took the silver, while another Japanese, Ryuju Hino, settled for the bronze. This year, he beat Lee June-hyoung of Korea and Italian Maurizio Zandron.
Mrs. Martinez said that Michael’s participation in several coming tournaments is more than the normal number of competitions that his rivals join in. He is doing this because Michael has a lot of catching up to do in terms of points earned.
Michael is set to see action this July in Los Angeles, and in Detroit. In August, he will go to the Asian Trophy in Bangkok, and then to the USA Classic in Utah this September. The Finlandia Trophy is next, followed by the Espoo Finland in October.
The Grand Prix of China awaits Martinez in November, and then the Golden Spring event in Zagreb this December.
Next year, Martinez will have a chance to represent the Philippines for regional dominance in figure skating in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games to be held in Kuala Lumpur.
Five sports, including two winter disciplines could be introduced in the SEA Games – bridge, cricket, ice hockey, ice skating and Tarung Derajat.
“If I make it through, it would be an honor to represent the Philippines in the 2017 SEA Games, in hopes to win the gold medal for our country”, said Martinez.
His stints in the tournaments, including the SEA Games, will allow him to earn points in order to qualify for the next Winter Olympics, which will be in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.
“He’s eyeing the next Olympics. Yung injuries nandiyan na iyan. Every skater suffers repetitive injuries. It’s really difficult. They have to jump high, land on one foot on a very thin blade on very slippery ice,” said Teresa.
Micheal has learned he has to take the risks involved in order to be great. It’s okay. For he has also learned that champions never complain.