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Friday, February 7, 2014

For the first time ever...

The team event medals will likely be won by skating's usual powerhouses, and most of the individual ones as well. But one of the nicer things at the Olympics is seeing qualifiers from countries not normally associated with figure skating greatness. This time, a number of skaters became either the first the qualify an Olympic spot for their country, or the first to do so in a specific discipline. Maybe one day we'll see their countries participating in the team event, too? Until then...

Michael Christian Martinez, The Philippines: the 17 year old Martinez is the first skater from any southeast Asian country to make it into the Olympics. He picked up skating at a mall rink in Manilla in 2005 and has made impressive progress, finishing 5th at Junior Worlds last year. His goal is to make it to the free skate, with bigger goals in the future.

Martinez punches his Olympic ticket at the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy

Isadora Williams: Williams is from the US, but has a Brazilian mother and has represented Brazil internationally for several years. In a couple of weeks' time, she will become the first skater to compete for Brazil at the Olympics.

Anne Line Gjersem: not for the first time ever, but Gjersem is the first skater to represent Norway since 1964. Her selection was only made official after the Europeans, and like Martinez, she hopes to make it to the free skate.

Andrea Davidovich and Evgeni Krasnopolski: I read somewhere that the two began training together exactly one year before the opening ceremony. The 7th place finishers from the European Championships are Israel's first Olympic pair.

Davidovich/Krasnopolski on their way to a personal best

Alisa Agafonova and Alper Ucar: Turkey's first ice dance Olympians did not have a great European result, but they have done well at other competitions.

Sara Hurtado and Adrian Diaz: Spain's first ice dance couple will also be Spain's first ice dance Olympians. They just squeaked in via Nebelhorn Trophy qualifying, but are coming off a well-deserved top ten showing at the Europeans. Their free dance is amazing and they really need to make it to that segment so that they can perform it on the biggest stage possible.

My favorite free dance of the season.

Valentina Marchei: an Italian skater, on this list? Well, I just have to give a shout out to Marchei, who will be making her first-ever Olympic appearance after rather cruelly missing out twice before. I really really want her to do well. Go Vale!!!

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