Michael Martinez among early leaders for Olympic medal

by Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBNNews.com

Posted at Feb 14 2014 11:53 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2014 08:53 AM

Michael Christian Martinez of the Philippines competes during the figure skating men's free skating program at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Reuters/Issei Kato

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Filipino skater Michael Martinez delivered a graceful, yet strong performance in the medal event of the men's figure skating in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia on Friday.

Martinez, who made Olympic history for the Philippines and Southeast Asia by competing in Sochi, garnered a score of 119.44 in the free program.

He has a total score of 184.25 points after the short and free programs, allowing him to take an early lead.

He placed first among the top 6 as of posting time, with veteran skaters from Europe, North America, and East Asia yet to take to the ice.

Martinez who performed to the tune of Ernesto Lecuona's Malaguena, was the third performer among the 24 in the free program event.

The 17-year-old looked more daring this time, doing triple axels, triple double toes, double flip, and lot more presentation towards the judges' side.

However, he fell at one point and landed on his right hand after executing a triple loop.

"For me, he's getting stronger and maybe running away a little bit but he's giving it everything that he's got and he's fighting right to the finish," said a female event commentator.

Martinez ended his routine with a Biellmann Spin, an unusual and difficult maneuver for male figure skaters. "Unusual for men, the Biellmann spin, performance to be proud of,” she said.

"A lot to be proud of, he really did the program well he had a good flow across the ice, the speed was there," said the male commentator.

Martinez finished 19th a field of 30 during the preliminaries on Thursday.

This enabled him to march to the free program, which is the medal round of the men’s figure skating event.

The 17-year-old is the first Filipino and Southeast Asian to qualify in the Winter Olympics men’s figure skating.

Maria Calaguas, who is part of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) delegation to Sochi, said they were hoping Martinez gets to rank at least 10th or 12th in the medal round.

“If he can get a good score… [then] at least he can make it to the 10th,” said Calaguas. “If even higher, then that would be better of course.”