Given the circumstances, Michael Marinaro could be forgiven for the faux pas.
On a conference call with reporters prior to departing for this week’s ISU World Figure Skating championships in Sweden, Marinaro and partner Kirsten Moore-Towers, the two-time Canadian pair champions, discussed preparations as the tandem gets ready to step onto international ice for the first time in more than a year.
“This is the biggest positive of the past 12 years, so we’re just hoping to take advantage of that,” said Marinaro.
“12 months…past 12 months,” Moore-Towers corrected her partner with a laugh.
It hasn’t been a dozen years. It just feels that way.
One year ago, Moore-Towers and Marinaro were coming off two silver medal performances on the ISU Grand Prix circuit and a bronze at the Four Continents Championships to go along with their second straight Canadian crown in Mississauga, Ont.
Enjoying their most successful season together, the team seemed poised for a run at the podium with the 2020 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, on home soil in Montreal, on the horizon.
Just a few days before the start of the championships, reality hit as the global pandemic forced the cancellation of the championships as leagues and events around the world went dark.
Nothing hasn’t been the same since.
“The momentum we built last year was immense and we were really on a great path,” admits Moore-Towers. “(The worlds cancellation) was a big bummer with a lot of bummers to follow. We thought that was going to be the biggest one and we’d have a couple of weeks of the pandemic, and boy, were we wrong. Life’s a little different now, our perspective’s a little different now.”
Their perspective is understandable, and not just as it relates to skating.
On March 31, nine days after the world championships were scheduled to end in Montreal, Marinaro’s grandmother, Charlotte Jones, passed away without warning after a COVID-19 outbreak spread through a long-term care facility in their hometown of Sarnia. The family loss hit Marinaro hard and a few months later, Moore-Towers suffered a rib injury that kept them off the ice for several weeks.
Now, finally, opportunity knocks once again, and they aren’t letting the moment pass them by.
Unlike many of their competitors they’ll see in Sweden, Moore-Towers and Marinaro haven’t skated internationally this year. But the Canadian champions see it as a chance to make up for some lost time and, perhaps, gain a little redemption.
“There’s adversity, it’s been a difficult road to get here, but some of the most difficult events that we’ve had have turned out to be the most successful,” reasons Moore-Towers. “We’ve thrived on adversity before, and I believe we have the ability to do it again.
“I hope it’s another mark in our story.”
“I’m just excited to get out there on the competition ice again,” adds Marinaro. “Throughout the season, it’s been difficult training without having those clear goals and events to get ready for.
“Before the pandemic, skating had become a little bit of a job for us, and a little bit monotonous. Now, having that layoff has rekindled the love for the sport and the joy of the sport.”
With their competition season being grounded by the pandemic, Moore-Towers admits it has been hard to stay focused, adding the uncertainty has taken its toll, both emotionally and physically.
“There’s a lot to be said for how much mental preparation, never mind physical, but how much mental preparation goes into each event,” she reasons. “It’s extremely difficult to continue to mentally prepare yourself when things continue to get cancelled.
“We are hoping the world heals and we can have audiences back next season.”
Now, with the past year in their rear-view mirror, Moore Towers and Marinaro, in this most uncertain of seasons, have their sights on the road ahead.
That road ends at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm this week.
If they don’t have medals draped around their necks on their return flight to Canada, so be it. Overcoming adversity isn’t defined in glitter.
“If we are proud of our two performances, it will be a success,” says Marinaro matter-of-factly.
“We are ready to lay it down in Sweden.”