The next Philippine Olympic medal could be gliding on the blades of 15-year-old Sofia Frank.
The Los Angeles native, who trains out of Colorado, is putting in the final touches for the Nebelhorn Trophy taking place in Germany later this month. A top six finish for Frank punches her ticket to the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
"I've been training really hard. It's a lot of programs everyday... Fortunately, we just got rid of the mask mandate here in Colorado so it's been easier to train," Frank said. "Kind of surreal, especially being so young. This has been my dream since I started skating."
The Fil-Am first got into the sport when she was just three years old. She said the constant quest to improve has motivated her to keep competing, eventually leading her to the brink of an Olympic berth.
She is among three Filipino athletes from the Philippine Skating Union vying for Olympic spots. Edrian Paul Celestino will be representing the men at the Nebelhorn, while speedster Julian Macaraeg will be vying for the Olympics through the Speed Skating World Cup series.
The bright lights and being judged is nothing new to Frank as her mother Precious Tongko knows this life very well. Tongko was Bb. Pilipinas-Maja in 1990. For her, figure skating is like a beauty pageant.
"When you go on the ice, the way you're presented, the sparkly dresses, makeup and stuff; there's also judges that look at you," Tongko pointed out. "The only difference is you really have to have a skill. You're basically skating on blades and knives. That's the difference between pageants and figure skating but a lot of aspects are the same."
Frank says her mother has been an inspiration to her since she was little. "I definitely want to be like her when I am older. Growing up watching her always made me want to push harder," Frank shared.
Frank also found support from fans and fellow Filipinos through a GoFundMe page that is helping raise funds to cover some of her training programs and travel.
"The whole sport is pretty expensive if I'm being quite honest. Skates cost a lot of money. The boots probably cost 1500, plus the blades are another 500, and also getting to and from the rink. I have quite a few coaches and they all do a bunch of different stuff. I do off ice training as well so it's a lot."
Frank will be skating in a local competition before she heads to Germany later this month.