Frank, Celestino, Macaraeg to compete in Winter Olympic qualifiers; Two-time Olympian Martinez sits out

Two-time Winter Olympian figure skater Michael Martinez will be sitting out of the Olympic qualifiers this year as the Philippine Skating Union selected Sofia Frank and Edrian Celestino, and speed skater Julian Macaraeg to compete in two upcoming tournaments.

(From left) Sofia Frank, Edrian Celestino, Julian Macaraeg and two-time Winter Olympian Michael Martinez (Photos from PHSU)

Frank and Celestino will contend in the Nebelhorn Trophy next month while Macaraeg is slated to race in World Cups 1-4 from October to November to haul points for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

The screening was made through an Olympic Qualifier Evaluation where skaters should showcase their short and free-skate programs through "unedited footage that have been previewed virtually for the assessment of international judges."

Scores then will be combined with an in-person event en route to the country's lone slot at the Nebelhorn Trophy which is the last qualifying event for the China Winter Games.

Celestino bolstered his selection process by ruling the Quebec Summer Championships while Frank also bagged gold medal in the Cup of Colorado.

Macaraeg, for his part, raced in the Desert Classic to place 6th overall in the 500-meter and 20th in the 1,500m along with 34 skaters. He also registered a new Philippine record for the 1,500m distance.

Christopher Caluza, who captured silver medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, also missed his chances to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Meanwhile, in a statement Friday, Aug. 20, the PHSU announced that Martinez has decided to withdraw from his bid in the Nebelhorn Trophy and focus more on recoving from his on-and-off injury while training in Moscow, Russia.

"Having said that, Michael's team has decided to completely dedicate the remainder of the competition season towards longer preparation for future international tournaments," said a portion of PHSU's statement.

The PHSU furthered that Martinez's love for the sport remains "unwavered" in the hopes of coming back stronger with his adjustments to new programs and adaptations to new techniques.

The country's skating union said it will support Martinez's decision and will continue to do so should he decide to suit up for future competitions plus a speedy recovery for the two-time Winter Olympian.

"Despite the three-year absence from competing, Michael is ultimately grateful for all the outpouring support given to him since the beginning of his Olympic journey. He will continue to recover well, work hard, and devote his time to skating his best."