Despite the fact that the Philippines is a tropical country, there are Filipinos who excel in winter sports, such as 21-year-old Asa Miller.
Given how the Philippines is a tropical country and that it never snows here, knowing someone who plays or participates in winter sports is like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. But that hasn’t stopped Filipinos from trying to succeed in winter sports. Take the Winter Olympics. Believe it or not, the country has participated in the winter games for decades now.
The Philippines made its Winter Games debut at the 1972 edition in Sapporo, Japan. Two alpine skiers, Juan Cipriano and Ben Nanasca, were qualified to participate. Ever since, the country has managed to field athletes for the Winter Games, albeit only handfuls at the time. And with the 2022 Winter Olympics set to start on February 4, the Philippines is set to compete once again. And this time, 21-year-old Asa Miller is carrying the country’s flag.
ASA MILLER, THE FILIPINO SKIING PRODIGY
Asa Miller is set to be the only athlete representing the Philippines in the 2022 Winter Olympics. He is also set to be the flag bearer for the country. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Asa is a dual nationality holder, American and Filipino. His father, Kelly, is American while his mom, Polly, is from the Philippines with roots to Santa Cruz, Manila. Asa began skiing at the young age of one-and-a-half years old. With the help of his parents, he honed his skills into becoming the talented skier that he is today.
In November 2021, Asa Miller passed the minimum mark for Olympic qualification of 160 points set by the International Skiing Federation. This, in turn, qualified him for his second Olympics. He is set to compete in two events. The first is the men’s giant slalom event on February 13. The second is the men’s slalom competition on February 16.
SECOND TIME AT THE OLYMPICS
This actually marks the second time Asa has competed in the Winter Olympics. He made his debut at just 17 years old at the 2018 edition in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Asa competed in the giant slalom event, where he finished 70th out of 110 competitors. He was one of two athletes representing the country at the games, the other being figure skater Michael Martinez. This time though, Martinez had to back out due to an injury while other prominent figure skaters like Sofia Frank failed to qualify for the games. Asa’s participation in the games is actually historic as he is set to become the first Alpine skier representing the Philippines to compete in two Winter Olympics.
While he didn’t manage to take home a medal in 2018, he is looking to take home the country’s first ever Winter Olympics medal in Beijing. “I didn’t place any expectations. But I do expect myself to improve on my placement from the last Winter Games. I really hope to be able to display my improvements over the last four years technically,” he said during a press conference before he left for Beijing.
He also managed to talk to another history making athlete, Hidilyn Diaz. “I was lucky enough to be on a call with Hidilyn Diaz as part of the [Philippines Olympic Committee] Athletes’ Commission. So, that’s a huge inspiration, watching our all-time best performance. And being the first one to take a gold for a country, that’s the pinnacle of athletic achievement, for sure. I just told her that what she did was hugely motivational, and I hope I can follow it up well.”
CHANCE TO MAKE HISTORY
While an athlete from a tropical country succeeding in winter sports might seem far fetched to some, the past year has seen Filipino athletes succeed in sports that people don’t usually associate with Filipinos. The past week alone saw the Women’s National Football Team secure a history making spot at the 2023 Women’s FIFA World Cup. So, anything is possible.
From February 4 to 20, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is set to run with over 15 sports to be played including seven new events such as women’s solo bobsledding. Just like in Tokyo 2020, the general public is not allowed to be in the venues in-person.
Goodluck to Asa. Kill it on the slopes.