Feb 8, 2018
2018 Olympic Winter Games is just a beginning for Pinoy athletes
When it comes to the winter Olympic stage, team Philippines is proving that it can chill with the rest of the world.
For the first time in history the island nation will send two athletes in two sports.
2014 Olympic darling figure skater Michael Martinez is now 21 years old, and returns to the figure skating competition.
He will be joined by 17-year-old Fil-Am Asa Bisquera Miller.
The high school senior from Oregon holds dual citizenship, and will make his Olympic debut on the giant slalom.
“It is an amazing thing that we have a team, who are going to the Winter Olympics, and Asa Miller. It’s just amazing news for everybody,” said Martinez.
For the Philippine Ski Federation, Miller’s Olympic bid has been years in the making.
The federation has been scouring snow countries for athletes with Philippine lineage — a desire to represent the country, and the chance to obtain dual citizenship.
“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,” said Jim Apelar, President PH Ski Federation. “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.”
As he looks forward to watching this year’s representatives, Apelar says there’s a handful of Filipino winter athletes that have their sights sent on the 2022 Games.
“Joel Cangas or Melvin is the Filipino, but his Finnish name is Joel Canga. Look out for this kid he’s one of the top 3 in Finland.”
There’s also Marco Ungher, a 16-year-old kid from Austria. He’s done so well in the alpine skiing in slalom and giant slalom.
“Obviously you’ve heard about Adrian Tongko, he’s a slopestyle specialist. Up and coming is a girl from Northern California, who just got her dual citizenship — her name is Ana Noelle Wahleithner.”
Filipinos representing other countries will also be chasing 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.
He is the only member of the US short track team to have Olympic experience.
Joining him on team USA is 17-year-old Fil-Am snowboarder Hailey Langland of Orange County.
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 five global Filipino athletes will join thousands of the world best on February 9th, when the opening ceremonies take place.