Philippine skating’s hopes for a 2022 Winter Olympics berth are now on speed skater Julian Macaraeg, who will aim for his first appearance in the quadrennial meet.
Macaraeg, 18, will need to crash into the top 32 skaters overall in the 500m and 1000m events, and top 36 in the 1500m after four stagings of the International Skating Union’s World Cup 2021.
Despite getting stacked against veterans, the Filipino-American skater is confident that he can make the qualifying standard especially after being able to see action in the 2021 World Championships last February.
“That was one of the biggest competitions that I’ve had so far besides the Youth Olympics,” Macaraeg told Rappler.
“So that gave me a good experience in racing because I was competing with the best skaters in the world at the time.”
Macaraeg also trained with the US speed skating team mentored by head coach Serhiy Lifyrenko in Salt Lake City and managed to prime himself for competition in the US nationals and Desert Classic, where he set a Philippine record in the 1500m.
“This season, we’ve been working on pushing ourselves to limit. During training, I was able to skate faster times compared to last year. I’m expecting to get personal bests in all the distances, if not most of them,” added Macaraeg.
The Youth Olympian will kick off his World Cup series on Thursday, October 21 in Beijing, China – the host city of the 2022 Winter Games – then will travel to Nagoya, Japan for the second stage on October 28.
After the Asia World Cups, Macaraeg will be joining the US national team in a training camp in France before the third World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary on November 18, and will cap the series off in Dordrecht, Netherlands on November 25.
Ukrainian Valentyn Danilovsky will be taking the spot as his head coach during the World Cups.
“I’ve been the youngest skater in these past couple of years, so, the people that I’m competing against are a lot older than me, and they have a lot more experience unlike me,” said Macaraeg.
“But I’ve been competing in the World Cup circuit since 2018, so I’m expecting myself to do a lot better compared to my debut. And obviously, since the older skaters have more experience, they might have better chances, but I’m still gonna do my best this season.” – Rappler.com