Martinez eyes quads for world tilt

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Olympic figure skater Michael Martinez is working extra hours a day on quad jumps which he intends to execute in bidding for a top 10 finish at the World Championships in Boston on March 28-April 3 but the strain means regular therapy at least four hours a week to stay in shape for the top-level competition.

Martinez, 19, performed in ice shows in four German cities last Dec. 20-29 with an international all-star cast that included four-time Olympic medalist and three-time world champion Evgeny Plushenko of Russia, Miki Ando and former Four Continents champion Yukina Ota of Japan, Aljona Savchenko of Germany, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada, Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi of Germany and Shawn Sawyer of Canada.

Martinez’ mother and travelling companion Teresa said the shows in Ingolstadt, Oberstdorf, Chemnitz and Regensburg were a boost to his confidence in performing before large crowds.

“The performers were all well-known and accomplished skaters and ice dancers,” said Martinez’ mother. “The shows were sold out. In Munich, we met Filipinos who wanted to watch the show in Ingolstadt but the tickets were sold out so they couldn’t go. We also met Filipinos in Oberstdorf. It was a wonderful experience and Michael held his own with some of the world’s best.” The shows were arranged by Jennifer Weiss of Spotlight Productions Sports and Entertainment of Wehrheim.

Martinez is now ranked No. 26 in men’s singles by the International Skating Union (ISU). So far, he has registered 236 points under the best category in Grand Prix events and 250 in selected international competitions. Last season, Martinez had no point in Grand Prix events and compiled 270 in selected international competitions. He is on track to record career-highs in ISU points.

Among the ISU top 30 skaters, there are only 11 Asians, including six from Japan headed by No. 1 Yuzuru Hanyu. Other Asian countries with skaters in the top 30 are Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China. The highest-ranked Chinese skaters are No. 18 Han Yan and No. 21 Boyang Jin. Denis Ten of Kazakhstan is ranked No. 3.

Because of the strain in his quad jump training, Martinez undergoes therapy four hours a week. He trains at least six hours a day on ice and at least one more hour off-ice. Martinez’ mother said the only way her son can move up in the world rankings and finish in the top 10 at the coming World Championships is to introduce and execute more difficult moves. However, there is a hefty price to pay in terms of wear and tear.

“Now, Michael gets injured more often with sprain, strains and contusions in the knee, back, ankle, shoulders and hips,” she said. “He trains in Poway, California, near San Diego and also at Lakewood, Torrance City and Anaheim. His coaches are busy with other competitions so we go to cities where he can get good training. For instance, this month, three of his coaches are not available because they’re focused on the USA National Championships. That’s why we went to Poway. But late this month, his coach in Poway won’t be available because of commitments at the European Championships so we’ll look for another city to train in with a coach.”

Martinez is slated to compete at the Four Continents Cup in Taiwan on Feb. 16-21 and the Coupe de Printemps Cup in Luxembourg on March 11-13 preparatory to the World Championships. He plans to attempt a quad jump in Taiwan.

“Michael’s quad is still inconsistent but he’ll definitely try it at the World Championships,” said his mother. “He may not reach the top 10 but he’ll be out there trying to. It’s a goal and Michael is working hard to achieve it.”

Martinez’ mother said there are no plans to return to Manila until after the May elections. “Since we arrived in California last September, we’ve been shuttling to San Diego and other cities depending on the availability of his coaches due to successive competitions like the USA Regional, Sectional and National Championships,” she said. “His coach in San Diego has other commitments like the Israel National and European Championships. Then, Michael competed in Warsaw and Zagreb and performed in Germany so we had difficulty connecting schedules.”

In the ISU website, Martinez’ coaches were listed as John Nicks and Peter Kongkasem. His previous coaches were Viktor Kudriavtsev and Ilia Kulik. His choreographer is Nikolai Morozov.

Martinez has gained worldwide acclaim since retaining the Triglav Trophy in Slovenia last April. He made it two victories in a row by bagging the gold medal at the Asian Figure Skating Trophy in Bangkok then finished ninth at the Finlandia Trophy, sixth at the Audi Cup of China, fourth at the Warsaw Cup and seventh at the Golden Spin of Zagreb. He posted his career-high of 220.36 total points at the Audi Cup of China last year.

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