American-born Isabella Gamez celebrates with her Russian partner Alexander Korovin after reaching a milestone for Filipino figure skating over the weekend. And so are their families and friends after Gamez and Korovin, 23, won a silver medal at the Trophée Métropole Nice Côte d’Azur held in Nice, France.
Their silver medal gave them qualifying points for a higher level of competition – the Four Continents Championships in January 2023.
“Competitively, we know we can do better. And in every competition (that we join), we want to keep working hard and improving,” Gamez said in a Zoom interview from his home in Fort Myers, Florida.
It was their first podium finish together after Gamez and Korovin first saw each other on the rinks of SM Megamall in Mandaluyong and then paired up in April last year.
They completed their Nice feat after Gamez and Korovin won gold in the free skate and silver in the short program. That earned them a total of 143.54 points to finish second overall, behind Irma Caladara and Riccardo Maglio of Italy, who collected 152.27 points.
Oxana Vouillamoz and Flaviena Ginniaux of France settled for third place with 143.38 points.
Gamez said the ice rink they used in the town near the Cote d’Azur on the southeast coast of France provided good lighting, helped boost their morale and energized them in their performance.
Their good performance was a nice conclusion to their return to competition since they haven’t been able to compete much in the past two years.
“We still have nerves. This is because we have been out of competition for the past three years. So we always understand how we are when we skate together,” added Gamez.
The performance in Nice, according to Gamez, inspired them to be better.
“It is humbling to win a silver medal in an international competition and to be the first Filipino pair team to do so. This is our second competition together,” Gamez said.
Gamez and Korovin performed to the tune of the song “I’ll Take Care of You” by Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, which they started with a triple twist move in the short program.
“We missed about four points. It’s like small mistakes. And it’s a small price to win big,” Korovin said.
The first time Korovin and Gamez, 23, teamed up was when they made their debut at the 2022 CS Finlandia Trophy.
In their first partnership, they placed ninth after two years of inactivity due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
Korovin said he is now looking forward to competing against Gamez in the Four Continents meet.
“We look forward to several competitions in the coming months before heading to Colorado Springs in February to skate at Four Continents,” Korovin said.
Gamez is currently coached by Marina Zoueva, a Russian figure skating coach, choreographer and former ice dance competitor. Zoueva represented the Soviet Union with Andrei Vitman and placed 5th at the 1977 World Championships, winning two medals at Skate Canada International.
Gamez skated with David-Alexandre Paradis when she competed in the final segment of the 2020 Four Continents Championships. She last teamed with Paradis in the 2019-20 season and they concluded their season with an 11th place finish. at the Challenge Cup. The two have since separated due to travel restrictions and the inability to train together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paradis then retired to focus on his coaching career.
Next up for Gamez and Korovin is the 2022 Warsaw Cup, which is the ninth in a 10-event series of the 2022-23 Figure Skating Challenger Series.
Gamez and Korovin are hoping to improve their moves at the Warsaw Cup, which takes place in Warsaw, Poland at the COS Torwar Arena from November 17-20.
“We are very proud of this milestone and we are excited to see how their journey progresses for the rest of the season and beyond,” Nikki Cheng, president of the Philippine Skating Union, said in a message to the Manila Standard.
According to Isabella’s sister, Justine, both of their parents, Gerardo Gamez and Marivic Ramirez Gamez, were born and raised in Manila. Although Isabella was born in the United States, she continues to maintain deep roots with their family based in Quezon City, Philippines.
Isabella got her athleticism and aspirations from her mother, who is the great-niece of former Filipino Olympic basketball player Freddie Webb. She learned her focus and discipline from her father in a long line of doctors in the Philippines.