What are Michael Christian Martinez's chances at the Winter Olympics?

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - In the words of my own brother, I am “probably the only Filipino person who is excited for the Winter Games.” That's right, I love the Winter Games and I'm a Filipina. I have been a figure skating fan since I was 12 and often refer it to as “my football.” 

After years of wondering when, or if, the Philippines would ever enter the world of figure skating, my wishes came true. ENTER: Michael Christian Martinez. I honestly believe that if Jamaica can win a medal in bobsledding, a Filipino can compete in the Winter Games. While I love the idea of Michael Christian Martinez winning a medal in Sochi, I am quite sure that he may not. Below are my reasons why I think he can, and why I think he may not.

Why he could have a chance: After watching a few of his performances on YouTube, I have to say that he's got potential. His spins are immaculate, showing off his flexibility that could nearly rival Lucainda Ruh. In order for him to be one of the top men in the world, he would need to refine his musical interpretation and learn to be more expressive while on the ice. Most of the men, nowadays, tend to throw the artistic portion of their programs away in favor of landing all jumps, so it's refreshing to see a skater who's not all about the jumps. 

Why he most likely won't win a medal: I hate being the Debbie Downer, but, the odds of Michael  being able to take down the likes of Yevgeny Plushenko, Patrick Chan & Yuzuru Hanyu, are very slim. Why, you may ask? Simple. Go quad or go home. Quads is the name of the 2014 games. The last man to win an Olympic gold medal sans quad was Evan Lysacek at the 2010 Vancouver Games and that caused a bit of a ruckus. It would take for all the top men to falter in their short & long programs for Michael to overtake them and medal. Watching a handful of Michael's perfomances, I noticed that he did not have a quad anywhere in his repertoire. A quadruple jump is practically a requirement for the  men's, no matter what country you are from. 

Martinez carries the Philippine flag during last Friday's opening ceremony. Photo by Andrej Isakovic/AFP

Martinez carries the Philippine flag during last Friday's opening ceremony.

Photo by Andrej Isakovic/AFP

My outlook for the men's field in Sochi: Save for Michael, who has pure, raw talent, that could evolve with more training, the upcoming men's competition can be anyone's game. 

Russia's Yevgeny Plushenko is clearly seeking redemption for Vancouver, which saw him earn a silver medal to Lysacek's gold, despite having a quad jump in his routine. (Note: Plushenko was the “ruckus” I was referring to, earlier.) Plushenko showed the world on Sunday that he's still got it, but he does a few things working against him: his age & wear. The Sochi Olympics will be his 4th go-around on the ice, nearly a record in his sport. However, if he can repeat his performances from the team event, gold can be his, again. 

On the heels of Plushenko is Canada's Patrick Chan. Chan is the 3-time and current reigning world champion. Chan has been on the top of the sport since Vancouver, where he placed fifth, three spots away from Plushenko and he's dying to take on that top spot in Sochi. Chan has been touted as the next “heir apparent” of mens figure skating, but he is not perfect, despite how the judges score him. I mentioned earlier that the quads is the big trick to win these games, but the quad tends to elude Chan. He can do them, yes, but not consistently. He is primarily known for his artistry & good triple jumps, but in order to have the whole package, he needs artistry (check), triples (check) & a consistent quad (squiggly line? We'll see) to grab the gold that Plushenko doesn't want to let go of.

 

Last but not least, is the “dark horse” of these games, America's Jeremy Abbott. Abbott is the current reigning US champion and is usually overlooked when it comes to international events. While he dazzles on home ice, his performances tend to get lost in translation overseas, and that is his biggest flaw coming into Sochi.

Lacking a quad, as most of the US men tend to, Abbott is one of the few skaters to enter an Olympic competition without an international title. However, that could all change if he's able to perform under pressure and check everything off the men's to do list. Winning an Olympic gold as his first international title would certainly show his rivals who's boss, but he would need that ever elusive quad in his programs. Jeremy has stated that this would be his final season in competition, and I know, that as an American, I would love to see him go out with a bang.

Editor's note: Martinez will see his first action on the ice on Thursday, February 13 for the men's short program. The short program, which will air live on TV5 from 11 PM to 3:30 AM, is the qualifying round wherein the top 24 skaters will advance to the free skate program. - Rappler.com

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