Standing ovations were needed in the pairs short program at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.
They were not there, of course. Nobody was there, but skaters and officials and coaches. The yawning rink seats echoed in their burgundy stillness.
After a season of miscues and slips and lifts aborted, and jumps gone awry, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro triumphed, winning the event by 6.14 points. Standing ovation worthy.
Nobody was even looking at Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud, who had finished second at the last nationals, but during the early season, bumped and grinded to frustrating finishes. But as they always do, they put their best foot forward at nationals, and finished second with 66.88 points to the winners’ 73.02. Standing ovation worthy.
“We definitely missed the crowd, but we could hear them in the back of our heads,” Michaud said. “We could still hear the cheers from back home and everywhere. “
“We felt really good on the ice,” Walsh said. “We really went out there to skate for ourselves. I think that was a most fulfilling feeling.”
Deanna Stellato and Maxime Deschamps, felled with COVID just before the event, skated to third place with 63.54 points, just edging another COVID-infected team Vanessa James and Eric Radford in fourth. Standing ovation worthy.
While James had few symptoms and Radford had what felt like a bad cold, Deschamps really suffered before he was allowed back on the ice last Monday. Stellato tested negative and never caught it.
Deschamps said his symptoms started out with a sore throat that morphed into a runny nose. “But then what complicated everything is that I started to cough a lot, as soon as I was doing a little bit of exercise, for a really long time,” he said. “And being tired a lot. This is the biggest thing. It still carry on as we skate. It’s hard. I feel the tiredness.”
At least Radford could do his burpees, but not Deschamps. The long program today might be an ordeal for the team that aims to continue to the 2026 Olympics, despite their age. (She 38, he 30).
Moore-Towers and Marinaro unleashed a small triple twist, triple toe loops, a throw triple loop, and lifts that went up, stayed up, and were set down gently, as they should.
“We’ve very pleased,” Moore-Towers said. “Believe it or not, this is not quite the standard of short programs we’ve been practicing….But we were thrilled to have something a little bit closer to what we are capable of. We got a little bit of confidence and we needed that.”
Marinaro said there are still a few things they need to clear up, but after their troubled beginning to the season, they were happy with this short. They’ve had difficult competitions before, but not such a long string of them.
Their season turned around after careful consultation, and they decided to focus only on themselves and “not get caught up” with external factors. It seems that the comeback of Vanessa James and Eric Radford unsettled them early, put them off their game. But they are now back on their game.
Walsh and Michaud earned a level three on their triple twist (Moore-Towers and Marinaro had a level two), had a slight cheat on a triple toe loop, and got level fours for all elements but a step sequence.
Stellato and Deschamps got only a level one for their twist (James and Radford had worse troubles on theirs), but got big points for a throw triple loop and accomplished triple toe loops. They didn’t get enough rotations on a flying change combo spin.
James fell on a triple Salchow.
Because Moore-Towers and Marinaro live in Ontario, they felt a bit hollow when friends and family could not attend. But the Olympics are foremost and extremely on their minds. “There are a lot of people here that we don’t get to see often and it is very difficult not to run around and give everybody hugs and chat and reminisce with old friends,” Marinaro said. “But we are very aware of what’s at stake.”
While Moore-Towers talked about this being their final season, Marinaro said nothing is cast in concrete yet, and “that’s more of a focus for later. It’s not really our focus right now.
“But we don’t want to forget any of these experiences because we don’t know how many more we’re going to have.”