By DAVID CASUCO
LOS ANGELES – There’s no stoppin’ Michael Christian Martinez’s magic carpet ride.
Coming off from a fabulous stint at the medal round of the Sochi Olympiad, the Filipino figure skating superstar outclassed an international field on the way to winning the gold medal at the ISU-sanctioned Triglav Trophy international skating competition in Jesenice, Slovenia.
Martinez, who was atop the standings after the short program, skated a near-flawless freeskate to win the gold medal with so much to spare. Dancing to his latest program “Malaguena,” Martinez nailed all but one of his jumps. He got a 139.84 score for his effort, and a combined total of 195.13, some 3.69 off his ISU personal best of 198.82.
“I am very happy that I won here in Slovenia. After the short program, I was not very positive in winning the gold. I am not yet 100 per cent healed from my injuries. At some point I was tentative in some of my jumps in the long program,” Martinez told this writer in an FB message. “Now that I win it, it made the victory a little sweeter.”
The Slovenia triumph marks the third gold for the Philippines in the world men’s senior figure skating. Michael had two golds tucked in his belt as a senior skater – the Crystal Skate and Skate Helena. He collected those two jewels in the last two years when he was competing on a shoestring budget.
Essentially, Martinez is still a junior skater. He has this dual status until age 19 when he stays a senior permanently. His best ranking as a junior was 5th, and 30th as a senior. That ranking though is going to move up after his 19th place finish in the Olympics.
After that dazzling performance at the medal round of the Olympiad Martinez became an instant celebrity even as he was flooded with pledges of support from the public and private sectors. But if you think the expected sponsorship and endorsement windfall that was to follow Martinez have made any headway, you have another think coming, because those pledges didn’t translate to anything interesting.
“I hope I can get sponsors this time who will support me until the 2018 Olympics, otherwise I will be forced to stop skating . My mother can't afford it anymore to support me for another four years,” said Martinez.
So, why the sponsorships and the endorsements did not pan out well, the Fil-Am media wanted to know. Last week, Martinez’s mom, Teresa, dodged the question when the media sought an update on that side of the story saying she will address the issue later.
Martinez is tentatively scheduled to be back in Manila before April 20.
(David Casuco writes sports and spirituality for examiner.com and Mabuhay News Service. He obtained his journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas and took expanded theological studies at the Angelus Bible Institute in Los Angeles.)