Audacious Alpe pins hope on repertoire of strength
Gliding under the shadows of Philippine figure skating star Michael Martinez surprisingly gives Jules Alpe some relief.
“There’s less pressure on me,” admits Alpe, the only other male performer in the national team. “When Michael is there, he’s the guy. I know the pressure is on him, but as a teammate, I will support him. I know everyone’s eyes are on him because he’s an Olympian.”
But less expectations hardly means less effort. In a bid to boost his international career, the 18-year-old Alpe had even opted to put his studies on hold.
“I want to make the most out of my time and opportunity to train and compete,” says Alpe. “I also need the exposure overseas. It’s one of the sacrifices I had to do so I can really focus on my sport.”
Alpe hopes to tread the same path as Martinez, who made history in 2014 as the first Southeast Asian figure skater to compete in the Winter Olympics.
“I’m training hard so I can also get there,” says Alpe. “It’s not just for me, but for Team Philippines. But I’m doing it my own way, because Michael already has his own signature.”
Performing in the sport’s biggest stage will be the biggest payoff for this skater from Molino, Cavite, who got his start at the SM Southmall skating rink.
“When I saw the skaters doing the jumps and spins, I wanted to try it,” shares Alpe. “But I was just five years old and they didn’t really allow me because I was a bit young. I tried it out again at eight years old. It was just a hobby. But a few months later, I competed for fun. Then soon I got serious.”
Since then, Alpe has amassed a chest full of medals, including golden finishes in the 2016 and 2017 Southeast Asia Challenge.
And he hopes to add to his haul as his sport, along with several other winter sports, debuts in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur this month. The Philippines will pin its hopes on him, Martinez and Alison Perticheto. The country’s other female figure skater, the United States-based Samantha Cabiles, begged off recently due to health reasons.
“I think there’s a big chance that we can get on the podium,” says Alpe, who hopes to showcase his wares in the short program, where he’ll perform to the tune of ‘Vampire,’ and in the free skating event on Joe Cocker’s “I Put A Spell On You.”
But Alpe knows it will be tough to compete against the 20-year-old Martinez and other regional heavyweights led by Malaysian favorite Julian Zhi Jie Yee.
“I want to prove myself,” says Alpe. “I’ll give everything that I got—all the jumps, spins and choreographs—and hopefully get a nice score.”
“But there are still things that I need to work on,” he adds. “I don’t want to be 100-percent sure that I can do it. I don’t want to be too confident. The other competitors also trained very well. So for me, I will just give it my best, do everything I can.”
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