MANILA, September 29, 2003 (STAR) The Philippine Ice Skating Team proved that pure talent is better than the widely-acknowledged strength in numbers by finishing sixth overall out of a huge 166-team field in the recent Recreational World Ice Skating Championships in Chicago.

Bannered by young and promising skaters from the SM Southmall-Las Piñas, the 16-man RP Team went home with a total haul of 47 gold, 18 silver and six bronze medals – more than what some foreign teams won despite fielding in 50-plus athletes.

Winning over their foreign counterparts, most of them coming all over the United States, are Sophia Choi (6 golds, 1 silver, 2 bronzes), Brian Choi (5 golds, 1 silver), Jescamelle Malabed (5 golds, 2 silvers), Katherine Louise Miller (4 golds, 2 silvers), Anna Beatrice Jose (3 golds, 1 bronze), Abraham Domdom (2 golds, 2 silvers), Nikki Anne Nicolas (5 golds, 2 silvers), Dale Marcus Feliciano (3 golds, 1 silver), Denise Danielle Alejandro (2 golds); Francesca Marie Laureano (4 golds, 1 silver), Kristine Velez (2 golds, 4 silvers), Veronica Vrtelova (4 golds, 1 silver), Rodha Therese San Jose (1 gold), Andrea Miller (1 gold), Cara Vidamo (1 silver, 2 bronzes) and Jacqueline Faustino (1 silver).

SM Southmall’s top level skaters also got their share of the limelight as the Elite Blades Ice Skating Club also went home with 14 golds, 3 silvers and a bronze – not a small feat considering that the host country fielded some of its best and veteran high level skaters.

"We came to this tournament to win, and the kids did not let us down. We knew that the competition will be tough and we’re happy with the results," said RP team manager Cees Ipenburg.

Ipenburg also announced that the Filipino ice skating community is now seriously campaigning to be accredited by the International Skating Union, the world governing body in sports based in Switzerland, that will further boost the promotion and development of ice skating in the Philippines.

The SM Group of Companies, along with the skaters, parents and coaches and supporters of the sport here, are also eagerly awaiting the construction of the first-ever Olympic-size ice skating rink in the country.

"We hope to be accredited by the ISU in time for our plan for the inclusion of ice skating when the country hosts the Southeast Asian Games in 2005. Our ultimate goal, of course, is to help the country win its first Olympic gold in ice skating," added Ipenburg.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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