Martinez tries new routine, loses gold

KUALA LUMPUR – A new, untested routine has cost Michael Martinez the gold medal in the ice skating competition of the 29th Southeast Asian Games.

Heavily favored to emerge victorious, the 2014 Sochi Winter Games veteran admitted that he gambled on a new program that prompted him to lose the gold in the men’s individual figure skating event at the Empire City Arena in Damansara Perdana late Sunday.

Instead, Martinez settled for the silver with 171.63 points – his lowest tally in any international competition – behind hometown bet Julian Yee, who tallied 205.43 points to clinch the gold.

“Basically this was the first time I was trying out my new program in a competition. This is so far the hardest among all the programs I have ever done,” he said.

“It usually takes three to four months to master the routine.

“This was the first time I included quads (jumps) in my program so there were still some refinements to do in my transition.”

He added that his tormentor opted to play it safe using a tried and tested routine.

“Yee played it safe and did nothing new. That has been his program for one-and-a-half years. Basically, what he did was skate, tumalon (jump), skate, tumalon (jump) while I introduced a lot of new things in my routine.”

The skater said the lessons learned here would serve him well as he tweaks his routine and prepares in September for the Nebelhorn Trophy, an Olympic qualifying tournament, in Germany.

“This tournament will be the first Olympic qualifier to next year’s Pyeongchang I Winter Olympics,” said Martinez, who placed seventh in the same competition in 2013 that earned him a spot to the Sochi Olympiad.

“I would really like to medal this time should I qualify.”

Performing in his first SEA Games, he added, “was a memorable experience which I hope I can repeat two years from now in Manila where I definitely will go out to win the gold.”

Next up for the Philippine ice sports squad is Filipino-American Kathlyn Santos, who will see action in the women’s individual 500-meter race in speed skating at the same venue on Tuesday.