JULIAN MACARAEG starts his quest to become the first Filipino speed skater to race in the Olympics when he vies in the first of four qualifying tournaments for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games at the Capitol Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Thursday.
The road to Beijing for Macaraeg means making the grade in four World Cups heading to the Winter Olympics China is hosting for the first time from February 4 to 20.
“These four World Cups are going to be the pinnacle of my career and the deciding factor whether I qualify for the Beijing Olympics,” the 18-year-old Macaraeg told BusinessMirror on Wednesday. “I am very excited to be competing. I’ve worked very hard this summer, and I’m going to put in all the work that I’ve done in my racing.”
After Beijing, the International Skating Union will bring the World Cup to Nagoya (Japan) from October 28 to 31, then to Dordrecht (Hungary) from November 18 to 21 and finally in Dordretch (The Netherlands) from November 25 to 28.
The Queens, New York-based Macaraeg expects tough challenges from skaters from Hungary, host China and South Korea.
“I’ll be competing with the best skaters in the world, and it will be interesting to see how this competition plays out,” he said. “I’m happy and proud to be representing Team Philippines.”
Macaraeg will try to accomplish what fellow Filipino Sofia Frank and Edrien Celestino failed to do in figure skating.
“I would say if everything comes to plan, I should get good results this weekend,” said Macaraeg, whose mother Irene and father Jesus trace their roots to Balagtas, Bulacan, and Villasis, Pangasinan, respectively. “I’m hoping I’ll finish this first competition without any falls and penalties, because that would be extremely crucial to my placing.”
A Filipino has yet to qualify in speed skating in the Winter Olympics. Cousins Juan Cipriano and Ben Nanasca competed in alpine skiing in Sapporo 1972, Raymond Ocampo vied in luge in Calgary 1988, Michael Teruel was the country’s bet in alpine skiing in Albertville 1992 and Michael Martinez in Sochi 2014 and again in Pyeongchang 2018 in figure skating along with another alpine skier Asa Miller.