Dean's Corner ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Sloppy job in opener

Figure skater Michael Martinez deserves an apology from the foreign female commentator who made the cardinal mistake of calling him by another name during the 39-second TV coverage of the Philippines’ march at the opening ceremony parade of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang last Friday.

The commentator said it was Michael Rodriguez, not Martinez, in the parade as the Filipino competitor in figure skating. To show how sloppy the production of the TV coverage was, the word “delegates” was misspelled “delagates” in the text accompanying the video. It’s not as if the Philippines sent a massive delegation to Pyeongchang. The fact is only two Filipino athletes are participating at the Winter Games. One is Martinez who booked his Pyeongchang ticket only a few weeks ago after Russian-born Swedish contender Alexander Majorov was withdrawn by the Swedish Olympic Committee for unclear reasons. The other is alpine skier Asa Miller, a 17-year-old Fil-Am who will compete in giant slalom on Sunday. Miller was the country’s flag bearer in the parade of nations. Fortunately, the commentator got his name right.

Martinez, 21, is booked to perform in the short program of figure skating at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Friday. There are 30 competitors in the event and the top 24 finishers in the short program will advance to freeskate the next day. At the Sochi Winter Games four years ago, Martinez was No. 19 in the short program and No. 20 in freeskate to finish No. 19 overall. The man whom he displaced in Pyeongchang, Majorov, ended up No. 14.

The hot favorite to bag the gold in male figure skating is American Nathan Chen, the 17-year-old wunderkind known as the quad king. He’s the only figure skater ever to land seven quads in a competition, doing it twice at back-to-back US Championships. In Moscow last year, Chen defeated Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu who’s defending his Olympic crown in Pyeongchang. Chen has won five titles this season and appears to be unbeatable on ice.

Martinez is hoping to improve on his 19th place finish in Sochi and reclaim his throne as Southeast Asia’s No. 1 figure skater. Malaysia’s Julian Yee has bumped Martinez off the Southeast Asian throne and they’re both in Pyeongchang. At the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur last year, Yee treated his hometown fans with a gold medal as Martinez settled for second place. Yee compiled a total of 205.43 points compared to Martinez’s 171.63. In the International Skating Union world rankings, Yee is No. 41 and Martinez, No. 44 so they’re not far apart.

Martinez is one of 54 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, hopefuls and legends from 15 sports and 21 countries enlisted by Visa to join an elite cast of sports ambassadors. Visa recently launched a full-length, 60-second global advertising campaign called “Resetting Finish Lines” to focus on selected athletes competing in Pyeongchang. The athletes include Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris, US alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, Korean speed skater Park Seung Hi, Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi, US snowboarder Chloe Kim, Polish ski jumper Kamil Stoch and Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga of the Nigerian bobsled team. The ad tells the inspiring stories of athletes overcoming adversity and injury, working beyond limits and pushing themselves to live their Olympic dream. They’re also portrayed as ordinary people who avail of Visa services like Visa checkout, contactless cards and wearable devices such as pins, payment-enabled gloves and commemorative stickers.

Dean's Corner ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

As the Olympics’ official payment technology partner, Visa is employing the sports platform to deliver the message that like athletes who outdo themselves in competition, the credit card company is outdoing itself in supporting “an expanded universe of connected, payment-enabled devices.” 

McMorris’ story is particularly moving. In March last year, he suffered a near-fatal accident after crashing into a tree while snowboarding in thick fog in Vancouver. McMorris underwent two surgeries, languished in ICU and struggled to recover from a fractured jaw, ruptured spleen, collapsed left lung, fractured left arm, fractured pelvis and fractured ribs. But in Pyeongchang, he was back in form to capture the bronze medal in slopestyle.

The film, which was shot in New Zealand and South Korea, is narrated by actor Morgan Freeman with background music featuring a souped-up rock version of the song “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” from the 1946 Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun.”

Dean's Corner ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
  • Follow Us: