PH Olympian Michael Martinez levels up with new coach

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Jun 05 2014 11:55 AM | Updated as of Jun 05 2014 07:55 PM

HACKENSACK, NJ – Figure skating is a sport that tells a story through the art of music, the art of movement and the art of performance.

When it’s performed by figure skating champions like Michael Christian Martinez, it all comes together as one amazing art on ice.

The sole Filipino to compete in the Winter Olympics Sochi is now training at the Ice House in Hackensack, NJ.

World renowned Russian coach Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov choreographed a whole new program for Martinez, in time for his next season of figure skating competitions in August.

Morozov has coached Olympic gold medalists and world champions.

He may charge about $5,000 for a four-minute program, but Martinez said it’s worth every dime as this would take him to the next level of competitiveness.

"Ang dami nagsasabi na parang kulang, hindi ka mukhang top level dun sa mga katulad ni Patrick Chan saka Yuzuru (Hanyu)," Martinez said. "So sabi namin kahit mahal gawin natin".

After a strong debut at the Winter Olympics in Sochi followed by a gold medal at the Triglav Trophy in Slovenia, one would think that he is now getting all the financial support he needs. But Martinez said that is not the case.

"Lahat ginagawa namin kahit walang masyadong fundings. Tina-try pa rin namin na kumuha ng coach na tutulong sa akin maka-pursige ako, maganda yung kalabasan sa 2018," Martinez said.

From now until 2018, Martinez said he is setting his eyes on qualifying for the next Winter Olympic Games.

In a sport that requires grace and precision, Martinez said long hours of practice until near perfection is key to winning.

But every practice costs at least $10 to $15 an hour, on top of the cost of hiring award-winning coaches.

Martinez said, when he can’t afford it he uses the technique of visualization – playing the program over and over in his head.

"Lalo na sa pag tulog ko, kasi para hindi sayang sa oras and sa money,” Martinez said. “So yun nga nakakatulong din dahil nga pag-tapak mo sa yelo parang ilang beses ka na nag-practice dahil na-visualize mo.”

The artist on ice said two of his biggest fears at this stage in his career are losing funding for practice and competitions and getting injured.

The new 4-minute and 30-second free skate program will debut at the Asian Trophy in Taiwan in August.