Meet the first Mexican figure skater ever to compete in the Winter Olympics

Donovan Carrillo, 2022

Mexico’s flag bearer, Donovan Carrillo, qualified for the first Olympic spot for Mexico in three decades by placing 20th at the 2021 World Championships.

Like many Mexican children, Donovan Carrillo, 22, tried to play soccer when he was little. But realizing that he had two left feet, and inspired by his sister and figure skater Javier Fernandez, the Mexican born figure skater ended up skating  across an ice rink instead.

“Since I was little, Javier Fernández was an inspiration to me because he came from a country where figure skating was not a main sport,” Carrillo said. “Soccer, like in Mexico, is very popular there. So he started to change that mentality and the sport started to grow with him.”

Donovan Carrillo

Carrillo qualified in the first Olympic spot for Mexico in 30 years by placing 20th at the 2021 World Championships, the best result for a Mexican male skater in the history of the event. 

Carrillo will be the first Mexican to figure skate at the Olympic Games since Ricardo Olavarrieta competed at Albertville 1992.

Born in Zapopan, Mexico, Carrillo, was forced to move to León with his coach at the age of 13 after the ice rink where he lived closed. 

Carrillo has trained in a shopping mall ice rink since and although it did not have the Olympic dimensions, he still qualified for Beijing. 

According to AP News, the first time Carrillo knew there was a Winter Olympics was when he looked at the 2010 Vancouver competitions. 

Now he will hold the first Olympic spot for Mexico in three decades. 

Carrillo is one of four athletes representing Mexico at the Winter Olympics. The others are Rodolfo Dickson in alpine skiing, Jonathan Soto in cross-country skiing and Sarah Schleper in alpine skiing.

Selected as the flag bearer for Mexico at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics alongside Colorado’s Schleper, Carrillo will compete in the Men’s Single Skating on February 8.

Credit: AP Donovan Carrillo and Sarah Schleper, of Mexico, carry their country’s flag during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

“Being the flag bearer for me as a Mexican means everything, as athletes we aspire to reach the Olympics and being a flag bearer motivates me more to have a performance that makes me feel proud not only myself but I want to make the whole country feel proud,” Donovan Carrillo said.