Fil-Am skater, partner make history for PH in world ice figure skating
A Filipina American figure skater and her partner made history as the first pair from the Philippines and Southeast Asia to qualify for the world championships this year.
Although they finished 18th among the 20 pairs who competed in the 2023 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, it was no small feat for the team of Isabella Gamez and Alexander Korovin who had to work hard and win in smaller competitions to secure a spot in the prestigious competition.
For a tropical country like the Philippines, qualifying in skating or any other winter sports will always be one for the books.
The last time the Philippines sent a competitor to the World Championships was back in 2017 with Michael Martinez.
Filipinos in Canada might have a chance to wave the Philippine flag for the first time and support the duo next year when Montreal hosts the world figure skating championships again.
The ISU World Figure Skating Championships is an annual event that moves around the globe, attracting more than 300 million television viewers worldwide and showcasing the 200 best athletes from 50 countries in four disciplines: men, women, pair and ice dance, its website reads.
The 2024 World Championships will mark Canada’s 11th time hosting, and a second for Montreal. Montreal last hosted the Championships in 1932, the very first time Canada hosted the event. Canada last hosted the event in London, Ontario, in 2013, it added.
But this is not the first that the Florida-born Gamez will be in Canada.
In 2017, she moved to Montreal for her training and her new coaches hooked her up with Spanish skater Tón Cònsul, according to Myles A. Garcia in PositivelyFilipino.com.
“Because of her family’s Fil-Hispanic connections, it was easy enough to switch and skate with Cònsul for Spain. At the 2018 Junior World Championships, the young Spanish-Filipino pair finished in 13th place. Cònsul, however, quickly decided to retire from competitive skating thereafter. Having spent time and vacations with family in the Philippines, Isabella always knew that she wanted to skate for her parents’ country—but how and when could it happen?” Garcia writes.
According to Rappler, Gamez eventually partnered with Canadian David-Alexandre Paradis, where they competed in the 2020 Four Continents Championships.
However, the two went their separate ways at the conclusion of the season due to the pandemic and subsequent retirement of Paradis.
It was only in 2021 with Korovin paired up with Gamez but could not compete since he still represented Russia and had to wait for the ISU’s go signal. He is also currently applying for a Filipino citizenship.
“Together, we both had different techniques coming from that he has a very strong European-Russian technique, and I had a very bold North American technique which we had to find a common ground,” Gamez told Rappler.
“We really took the time for those two years to meet in the middle for our skating and we really wanted, we really had to be patient for our techniques so that is where we are standing,” she continued. We still have a lot to learn from each other especially that this was our first competition competing together and we had to understand each other’s nerves and emotions and what we’re like, she added.
In October 2022, the skating pair gave the Philippines its first medal in international figure skating — a second place finish at the 2022 Trophée Métropole Nice Côte d’Azur in France.
Born to Gerardo Gamez and Marivic Ramirez, who were both born and raised in the Philippines, Gamez was not shortchanged of Filipino culture and heritage. Her mother is also related to Filipino sports icon Freddie Webb.
Philippine mall developer, SM Supermalls, is one of the pair’s sponsors. The pair aims to qualify for the Winter Olympics happening in 2026 in Milano, Cortina.
“We would like to congratulate our homegrown talents who have all glided their way to the world championships. These two major wins are definitely one for the books as once again, we will be able to show the world how talented Filipino skaters are. And we at SM Supermalls will always be proud that you have brought pride to the country,” said Joseph V. Silva, AVP for Operations for SM Lifestyle Inc. Sports & Leisure Centers, when the pair won inthe Challenge Cup held in Tilburg, Netherlands on February 26, 2023.