2018 Winter Olympics just the tip of the iceberg for Pinoy snow athletes

2018 Winter Olympics just the tip of the iceberg for Pinoys
Michael Martinez will finally have a teammate to represent the Philippines in the 2018 Winter Olympics. (File Photo)

For the first time in Philippine history, the island country will send two athletes in two different sports for the Winter Olympics.

2014 Sochi darling Michael Martinez, now 21, will return to the figure skating competition.

Martinez will be joined by 17-year-old Filipino-American Asa Bisquera Miller, a skier from Oregon who holds dual citizenship and will make his Olympic debut on the giant slalom.

For Martinez, the relief of having a teammate in Pyeongchang comes only second to the optimism for the blossoming future of Filipino snow sports.

"It is an amazing thing that we have a team, who are going to the Winter Olympics, and Asa Miller," Martinez told Steve Angeles of ABS-CBN News North American Bereau in an interview. "It’s just amazing news for everybody."

And Martinez has every reason to be excited about the future, because the governing body of Philippine skiers has been hard at work and looking for talent.

SEARCHING THE GLOBE

Miller's Olympic bid to represent the Filipino tri-colorfor example, has been years in the making, according to the Philippine Ski Federation.

"The federation has been scouring snow countries, for athletes with Philippine lineage," Philippine Ski Federation president Jim Apelar said. "[For] a desire to represent the country, and the chance to obtain dual citizenship."

Apelar himself was excited of the near unlimited possibility of finding a snow sporting gem among the millions of Filipinos abroad.

"Out of the 12 million that live abroad, 6 million live in snow countries, that means North America and European countries, also a little bit in New Zealand and Australia but in areas like Milan, Italy where there’s 30-40,000 Filipinos that community is going to grow. That’s a Ski country," he beamed.

Aside from Miller, their search is already producing results, according to Apelar.

"It’s just going to grow we have from Finland I was just talking to somebody from Germany. We just recruited someone from Austria. Last year I was recruiting someone from Norway and there’s a bunch of kids from Belgium who’s doing cross country skiing. They want to join the Philippine Ski Federation," he said.

EYES TOWARD THE FUTURE

As he looks forward to watching this year’s Pinoy representatives this February, Apelar says there’s a handful of Filipino winter athletes that already have their sights set on the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

Snow athletes like Joel Cangas out of Finland, Marco Ungher from Austria, Adrian Tongko, and Anna Waltliner, all reportedly expressed interest in representing the Philippines in four years.

GLOBAL PINOY TALENT

Filipinos representing other countries will also be vying for medals in South Korea.

Already with a silver and a bronze medal from two previous Olympics, short track speed skater JR Celski looks to capture his first gold. Joining him on team USA is 17-year-old Fil-Am snowboarder Hailey Langland of Orange County, California.

Fil-Canadian speed skater Gilmore Junio finished 10th in the 500 meter race in Sochi, but he became an Olympic hero a few days later when he gave up his 1000 meter spot to teammate Denny Morrison who eventually won silver.

These global Filipino athletes will join Pinoys Miller, Martinez, and thousands of the world's best on February 9, when the opening ceremonies take place.

 

With a report from Steve Angeles ABS-CBN News.

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