THREE Filipinos—Edrian Celestino and Sofia Frank in figure skating and Julian Macaraeg in speed skating—set out for separate Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics qualifying tournaments this month and until the last quarter of the year.
Philippine Skating Union (PSU) President Nikki Cheng told BusinessMirror on Thursday that Celestino, 23, and Frank, only 15, will compete in the Nebelhorn Trophy Figure Ice Skating Winter Olympics Qualifying Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany, set from September 22 to 25.
The 18-year-old Macaraeg, on the other hand, will shoot for his Beijing slot in the World Cup Series set from October to November in China, Japan, Hungary and The Netherlands.
“We have a great chance of qualifying for the Winter Olympics,” Cheng said. “The figure skaters are training abroad, which is an advantage for them, because the rinks in the Philippines are closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The Filipino-Canadian Celestino, whose parents are originally from Bulacan, is based in Montreal. He used to represent Canada until the 2018 season when he switched nationality and eventually became the Philippine national champion in 2019.
Frank, on the other hand, is a Filipino-American based in Colorado Springs—her mother is former beauty queen Precious Tongko who traces her roots to Isabela. She copped a bronze medal in the recent Colorado Springs Invitational.
Macaraeg, meanwhile, has Filipino parents from Pasig City who migrated to the US in the 1990s. He was the first Filipino to compete at the 2020 World Youth Olympics in Lausanne and the 2021 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in The Netherlands.
Cheng said Celestino is coached by Canadian Nicholas Young, while Frank is training under world-renowned Olympic Coach Tammy Gambill of the US. Frank will be accompanied by one of her personal coaches, Nicole Larsen.
Macaraeg will be accompanied by Ukrainian coach Valentyn Danilovskye.
PSU figure skating head coach Abraham Domdom admitted it would be difficult for Celestino and Frank to secure berths to the Beijing Games set from February 4 to 20.
“It’s going to be a tough task for our skaters to clinch a spot in the Winter Olympics,” Domdom said. “With 34 women vying for the top six spots and 26 men for the top 7 berths for Beijing, our skaters need to execute a near to perfect program.”
“That’s why they are training hard and polishing their routines ahead of the qualifiers,” Domdom said in a separate interview. “Every participating country has a good chance but it all depends on the day of the competition. If basketball has this saying ‘bilog ang bola,’ in skating we have ‘madulas ang yelo.”
Cheng also said that the PSU needs to raise P8.5 million to support the athletes’ Beijing campaign—P5 million for the qualifiers and the rest for their pre-Olympic training if they qualify.