Jhon Mark Trinidad
The world’s grandest spectacle for winter sports has just begun at Pyeongchang, South Korea. With the theme “Passion Connected”, 92 nations comprising of 2,920 athletes are expected to heat up the competition in order to bag an Olympic gold. While countries with cold climate like Germany and Norway are more likely to dominate the game, tropical nations like the Philippines will surely make their presence felt at this year’s quadrennial event.
The Filipinos are no stranger to the Winter Olympics. Although there is no snow and there are only few ice skating rinks in the Philippines, the country had defied the odds and made history in 1972 by being the first truly tropical nation to compete in the Winter Olympic Games when it sent two alpine skiers, Ben Nanasca and Juan Cirpriano, to the Winter Olympics at Sapporo, Japan. For the 23rd edition of the Winter Olympics at South Korea, Asa Miller and Michael Christian Martinez will proudly represent the country’s tricolor in two different events while carrying the nation’s hope of winning its very first Winter Olympics medal.
Asa Miller will make his Olympic debut at the alpine skiing tournament. He was chosen at the country’s official flag bearer at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Miller is a 17-year old athlete from Portland, Oregon who holds a dual citizenship for the USA and the Philippines. He qualified for this year’s quadrennial event in South Korea by virtue of accumulating sufficient points set by the International Ski Federation. He will participate at two slalom events which are scheduled to unfold on 18 February.
On the other hand, seasoned figure skater Michael Christian Martinez will make his second consecutive Olympic appearance by competing at the men’s singles event. Last 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Martinez made a name for himself as he became the first Filipino, the first Southeast Asian, and the first male figure skater from a tropical country to participate in the Winter Olympics. During the same year, he was also the first Filipino Winter Olympian after 22 long years. Martinez initially missed an outright Olympic qualification after placing 8th at the 2017 CS Nebelhorn Trophy which made him only the first alternate. Nevertheless, Martinez qualified for 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after Sweden relinquished its Olympic berth. He will see action on February 16 for the short program and on February 16 for the free skating round.
The two Filipino Olympians had already made the country proud by simply participating at the most prestigious winter sports event of the year. Pyeongchang and whole world will witness how the Filipino athletes will conquer the ice with pride once again.