After a three-year hiatus, Michael Martinez found someone to break the ice on his figure skates.
The two-time Filipino Winter Olympian has been on the groove in his comeback attempt all thanks to his Russian coach Nikolai Morozov, who has been helping Martinez since he decided to return and compete earlier this year.
“Honestly, I’m very surprised about Nikolai,” Martinez said in a Rappler Talk interview. “I really had my doubts to go back on the ice, but Nikolai stepped up and said that ‘I’m gonna help you.’ I’m really surprised because he’s the best of the best.”
“[Morozov] could’ve chosen a lot of great skaters out there. But he and his team chose me to help me out. I’m really surprised and I’m very thankful.”
Morozov has coached Japanese world champion Miki Ando in both of her gold-medal stints in 2007 and 2011, as well as 2006 Olympic champion Shizuka Arakawa.
Martinez is currently with Morozov and his team in Moscow, Russia, and admits that the training he’s been doing has been different compared to his previous routines.
“It’s a lot of training,” he said. “I guess what’s really different than before is that the coaches that I have right now are so inspired and motivated to push me harder.”
“It’s so hard to wake up in the morning but I know for a fact that it’s gonna be worth it in the end. I’m happy that I’m improving so fast and I just can’t wait [to perform].”
Martinez’s return, however, was not as smooth as he would have hoped. Back in April, the Filipino figure skater and his team launched a fundraising campaign to support his stint to qualify for the Olympics.
But despite the challenges he faced, Martinez had a decent run in his first tournament in three years as he secured a 24th place finish in the 2021 Challenger Series (CS) Finlandia Trophy last October in Espoo, Finland.
Martinez said Morozov and his team played a big role in resolving his issues.
“This sport is very expensive,” he said. “My team and I are saying that we need to figure out a way to continue my skating career. They are really motivated to help me out so we came out with the idea to start a GoFundMe, mainly to train for the Olympics.”
Martinez now sets his eyes on the Cup of Austria in November, noting that his main goal is not just to qualify.
“My coach really motivated me,” Martinez said. “I agree with him that our main focus is to put the best performance out there. Not just to compete, but to get high placements, to win most of the competitions. That’s the main goal this time.” – Rappler.com