MANILA, Philippines – More and more children are enrolling in ice skating classes thanks to figure skater Michael Christian Martinez, who may have just kicked off a new craze with his solid performances in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Martinez was the country’s lone representative in the Winter Olympics and placed 19th overall in the figure skating competition. Upon his return to Manila last Sunday, he was mobbed by fans at the SM Mall of Asia ice skating rink.
Hundreds of fans also turned up to watch his performances at the ice skating rink in SM Southmall in Las Piñas, MOA and SM Megamall.
Noel Nerida, Martinez’s spinning coach, reported a rise in enrollment for skating classes in SM rinks.
“Na-encourage ‘yung iba (kay Michael),” he said. “From before, 10 students lang, nag-doble na eh. Because of this craze and everything when we got Michael to the Olympics, tumaas ang enrollment.”
“Sa Megamall, ang dami ding nage-enroll dahil kay Michael,” he added.
Nerida said he has seen children who also have the potential to become a figure skater like Martinez.
“There are lots of students here who have the spinning talent, like Michael,” he said.
But Nerida acknowledged that skating is a particularly expensive sport to get into.
“For a beginner to enroll, it’s P3,100,” he said. “That’s only for six sessions, and each session is only 30 minutes long. And the higher level you go, mas tumataas ‘yung enrollment (fee). Depende din sa level ng coach, kaya mahal.”
Nerida also noted that skates can cost some $700. The skates Martinez use cost at least $1,000.
Martinez’s mother, Teresa, has not minced words when talking about the cost of her son’s training. “This is really so expensive a sport,” she said in an ABS-CBN News interview.
Martinez has different coaches for different elements in his program, which only adds to the expenses.
“Ang sabi ko nga kay Michael, ang swerte mo, ikaw ‘yung bunso,” she said. “Otherwise, hindi talaga kaya. Mahirap siya. It’s so expensive.”