Based on photos and brief videos taken of him and his wards, Sochi Winter Olympics veteran Michael Christian Martinez appears to be having fun in his new role coaching promising young figure skaters under the auspices of the Philippine Skating Union.
After staying in the United States for a few years, Martinez was back in the country last week at the invitation of PSU President Nikki Cheng, who offered the athlete the job after the exodus of accredited coaches from the PSU to other jobs over the past two years. due to lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are in very small numbers, especially with high-level coaches, so the arrival of Michael to help us is very timely,” Cheng said, adding that Fernandez has started his new coaching stint at the SM rink. Megamall among the skaters in the PSU development pool. .
Martinez even posted a 15-second video of himself coaching one of the skaters under his care on Facebook.
“Super happy and excited to share my knowledge with the younger generation here in the Philippines. ⛸⛸ ❄️They are the future of figure skating! Martinez captioned the video.
The young skater in the video is 8-year-old Erphy McKanzie, who was part of the PSU national development pool, according to Cheng.
The PSU official revealed that there was initial reluctance from Martinez when she approached the idea of coaching local aspiring skaters.
“Although he wants to return to competition, I asked Michael if he wanted to try his hand at coaching. He had doubts but changed his mind during our last conversation. Parang nag-light up siya (He lit up)”, Cheng of his successful conversation with the athlete.
At his peak when he made his Winter Olympics debut in Sochi, Russia, in 2014, Martinez, 25, was still a long way from being back in shape for competition, the PSU chief has learned. of his recent exchanges with the figure skater.
Cheng said that although the Pinoy skater had no formal training as a coach, “his experience and knowledge of performing at a high level should help him teach others the art of figure skating well. .
“There might be adjustments between being an athlete and being a coach, so we’ll look at how he adapts and interacts with his trainees.”
The skating chief added that it was also a way for Martinez to give back after the millions of pesos that the SM business group, led by honcho SM Hans Sy, and the government through the Philippine Commission sports, had invested in his sporting career. .
“I really hope that Michael will be able to develop young skating skills. We know it will be a long process, but this can be the next chapter for him to give to the sport,” she explained.
Born in Paranaque, Martinez had cut his teeth as a prodigy at the SM Southmall rink in Las Pinas in 2005 where his skill and talent were noticed by coaches at PSU, then known as the Ice Skating Institute of the Philippines.
According to the figure skater himself, he took up sports from an early age to overcome chronic asthma.
Realizing his immense potential, the tall and lanky skater was sent to the United States to train with top coaches, including English mentor John Nicks, a former world champion in pair skating with his sister Jennifer, and the Russian Olympic figure skating champion Ilia Kulik.
At the age of 16, Martinez tasted his first international victory at the Crystal Skate 2012 in Romania, followed by a fifth place finish at the Junior World Championships held in Milan, Italy in March 2013 with a score of 191.64 points.
A broken ankle during the 2013 season kept the Pinoy skater out of action for about two months.
But he was able to recover in time to book a ticket to the Sochi Winter Games by securing seventh place in the Nebelhorn Trophy, the final Olympic qualifying event, in September of that year in Oberstdorf, Germany, scoring 189 .46 points.
Being in the top 10 of the competition, Martinez earned the distinction of being the first Southeast Asian to qualify in men’s individual figure skating for the 22nd Winter Games held in the famed resort. Russian resort in Sochi.
He was also the only Filipino representative at the competition and was also given the task of being the flag bearer during the colorful opening rites at the 40,000-seat Fisht Olympic Stadium.
In his Winter Games debut, Martinez scored 64.81 points in the short program to advance to the free skate phase where 119.44 points ranks 19th overall out of 24 entries with a total of 184.25 points .
His performance and return from the Sochi Winter Games became a cause for nationwide celebration, and with his handsome and clean look, he became the poster child for figure skating in the country.
Other notable achievements in 2014 include sixth place in the Lombardia Trophy, a stop in the tough International Skating Union Challenger Series, and 10th place overall in Skate America.
Martinez also made his debut at the world championships held in Shanghai, China, placing 21st among 24 athletes with a score of 192.38 points.
In another milestone for the figure skater, the highlight of Martinez’s 2015 campaign was leading the men’s individual event at the Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy competition in Bangkok, Thailand.
As figure skating made its debut at the Southeast Asian Games, the Filipino had to settle for silver behind hometown favorite Julian Yee in the 2017 edition which ended held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
A return trip to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea fell through after he placed 8th in the 2017 CS Nebelhorn Trophy and was relegated to alternate status because qualifiers were reduced to the top 8 of the competition.
Martinez also missed the chance to perform in front of a home crowd by not taking part in the 30th Southeast Asian Games 2019 due to miscommunication with the federation.
He went into semi-retirement for the next two years as the world was swept up in the pandemic, throwing himself into coaching while trying to make a living as a “media influencer” on social media before announce its aspiration to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in early 2021.
But by then, the PSU had already named Canada-based Christopher Lanuza and Edrian Celestino as the country’s Olympic hopefuls, according to Cheng.