Seeing is believing.
Believing that a quadruple jump is possible. That qualifying to the Olympics and then the free skate are within reach. That personal best marks can be achieved on the biggest stage in sports.
Prior to these Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, his nation has only ever qualified four skaters to the Olympics, most recently to the 1992 Games in Albertville, France where both Riccardo Olavarrieta and Mayda Navarro failed to advance to the free skate.
So instead of tapping into a rich, local history in his sport, he turned elsewhere.
“Before figure skating, I was in gymnastics and diving, and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of Olympic athletes and train with them when I was a kid like [Olympic divers] Ivan Garcia, Germán Sanchez and Jahir Ocampo,” Carrillo told Olympics.com. “They were always super nice with me and they taught me a lot.”
He used what he saw in diving to push his skating forward.
“I took a lot of inspiration from them because as a Mexican, I’d never seen a quad in figure skating before. But I had seen a quad rotation, quad rotation and a half in diving, so, I just thought about it and said, ‘If they can do it in diving, I think I can do it on figure skating,’” Carrillo explained. “So, they were such an inspiration for me.”
Rommel Pacheco - figure skater? Donovan Carrillo - diver?
The sport has also been part of his post-Beijing performance whirlwind. After the 22-year-old set a personal best in the short program and became the first Mexican skater to advance to an Olympic free skate, one of the many to congratulate him was diver Olympic Rommel Pacheco.
“Much success in the final, my friend Donovan,” Pacheco wrote on Instagram. “Keep enjoying it, give it twice as much desire and show what you’re made of on that skating rink. You have our full support.”
As for joining Pacheco – a three-time Pan Am Games gold medallist - in the pool? Well, maybe.
“It would be amazing. It would be amazing to start to dive with Roma,” he said. “I think he would do great at figure skating, too.”
More Mexican figure skaters is exactly what Carrillo hopes his performance in Beijing will inspire.
“I just know that I’m really happy because I think I’m opening a door for a new generation of Mexican figure skaters,” said Carrillo, who was featured in the Olympic Channel series ‘Winter Tracks.’
A bright future
His popularity has soared during the Games, with Carrillo saying he’s gained more than a quarter million followers on Instagram.
That could be life-changing for the skater who famously trains on a mall ice rink during public skates.
“I’m really happy,” Carrillo said of his social media explosion. “It means a lot to me because that could also help me to look for new sponsorships, and that’s going to be affecting in a positive way my career in the future.”
The future has plenty in store for Carrillo and his new followers. He intends to compete at next month’s World Figure Skating Championships in Montpellier, France, and is already thinking about the next Winter Games in Milan.
“I want to have an opportunity to represent my country in Milan 2026. I'm really motivated with this Olympic experience and I didn’t want it to end when I finished my short program and my free skate,” said Carrillo. “I didn't want to leave the ice. I want to keep dreaming, and I want to keep living the Olympic dream.”