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Martinez goes all out for Olympics
Martinez with coaches Nikolai Morozov (right) and Roman Serov.
STAR/File

Martinez goes all out for Olympics

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 14, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Only seven slots are left for figure skating in the 2022 Winter Olympics after 23 made it via the recent World Championships but Michael Martinez is optimistic that he’ll come through in the last qualifying test at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, on Sept. 22-25.

Martinez arrived in New Jersey to resume training under Russian coach Nikolai Morozov last February and depending on resources, may set up camp in Moscow to get ready for the final push.

Martinez initially planned to compete at the World Championships that were held in Stockholm last March 22-28 but the qualifying event, the Tirnavia Ice Cup in Slovakia, was cancelled. “When I arrived in New Jersey, I only had five days to send a video to try to qualify for the World Championships and it definitely wasn’t enough time,” he said.

“Since the Tirnavia got cancelled, I wasn’t able to compete at the World Championships. We’re now aiming for the qualifying event at Nebelhorn. Most of the international competitions have been cancelled. We’re still waiting for new competitions to be announced. Nebelhorn is not going to be cancelled because it’s the qualifying event for the Olympics. Competing there for me is a must. They’ll be choosing the seven remaining skaters at Nebelhorn to complete the 30 for the Olympics.”

Martinez said his team is confident he’ll nail a ticket at Nebelhorn. “I was able to get a slot in past qualifying events with only six slots available,” the two-time Olympian said. “Coach Nikolai is fixing my papers for a Russian visa because he wants me to train there although we’re not sure since we lack funding. My management Virtual Playground helped me go to the US to jumpstart my training but now, I’m using my and my friend Geoff Viz’ savings to continue training because I don’t want to stop and put my efforts to waste if I go back to the Philippines. I hope to find sponsors soon or hopefully, my fund-raising campaign will be successful.” Martinez and Viz recently opened a site on gofundme.com to raise $50,000 and so far, 111 donors have contributed $3,840.

Martinez’ training team is composed of Morozov as head coach and choreographer, technical coach Roman Serov and strength and conditioning trainers Viktoriya Ryabchikova and Sergey Lebedev. His main training rink is the Montclair State University Ice Arena. Martinez does four to six sessions a day, six days a week except Sunday when he reports to a chiropractor. He’s staying at an AirBNB place in North Bergen, New Jersey.

“Right now, I’m about 70 to 75 percent,” he said. “I’m getting this right hip problem but I think it’s just my body trying to adjust with all the training and jumps. My coaches and trainers are amazing. We’ve been trying some quad jumps. Training is very hard and exhausting. I have lots of bruises. Figure skating is a physically, emotionally and mentally demanding sport. It needs a high level of discipline and focus to keep going. My whole body is always in pain but hearing good feedback from my coaches and getting good results from my training, it gives me confidence and I get more motivated. I know to myself that every pain, bruise and exhaustion I feel, it’s all going to be worth it.”

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