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Marinaro looking ahead to 2022 Winter Olympics

Michael Marinaro usually does his waiting in the kiss and cry area while judges deliberate.

Michael Marinaro usually does his waiting in the kiss and cry area while judges deliberate.

Now, however, the two-time Canadian figure skating champion from Sarnia is waiting at home for answers about this season and next.

Skate Canada has cancelled the national championships slated for February in Vancouver. But what about the world championships in March? And the 2022 Winter Olympics?

Even Marinaro’s training schedule with pairs partner Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines is unclear after Ontario declared a second state of emergency Tuesday.

As high-performance amateur athletes, they had an exemption to be on the ice during the provincewide lockdown. They don’t know if that has changed.

Marinaro plans to stop competing in 2022 after the Beijing Olympics and perhaps the world championships. That’s not far away, so he doesn’t want to miss any training this year.

But, for now, he and Moore-Towers wait.

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“That’s pretty much all we can do,” said Marinaro, 29, who lives in Oakville. “Not too much time to relax again because we have 12 months to go. We’re preparing for the best case scenario and that’s all we can do.

“Give ourselves the best shot (for when) things turn around and the world can get back to normal and we are ready. If not, we will cross that bridge when we get there.”

His retirement date isn’t set in stone. If the Olympics are delayed, he’ll stay for another year.

He and Moore-Towers were 11th at the 2018 Olympics.

“If the Games were pushed back a year, obviously we would be sticking around for the Olympics,” he said. “If they’re cancelled, that’s a whole other story. But the plan is for the Games to happen and that will be the end of the career.

“Fingers crossed that the Games are going to happen and we can finish on a high note at the Games.”

Marinaro and Moore-Towers are two-time Canadian pairs champions. They were aiming for a third straight national title until Skate Canada cancelled the championships Monday because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s definitely tough, but a little bit expected,” Marinaro said.

The world championships are still scheduled for March 22-28 in Stockholm. However, Sweden currently bans all non-essential travel by visitors from outside the European Union.

“It’s not looking very good and obviously with a two-week quarantine it’s not really conducive to holding a world figure skating competition,” Marinaro said. “But they’re still working on it and trying to figure out some kind of potential for it.”

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The International Skating Union is expected to decide by Jan. 28 if the event will be held.

“Nobody really knows what’s happening,” Marinaro said. “It’s different information every 24 hours. It’s a little bit discouraging, but we’re just trying to stay on track with whatever that looks like and make the best of the situation.”

Even if the world championships are held, there’s no guarantee Marinaro and Moore-Towers will go.

“There’s even another layer to all of the confusion. Even if they do happen, maybe Skate Canada’s not going to send us,” he said.

Marinaro and Moore-Towers, 28, are coming off a gold-medal win at the Skate Canada Challenge virtual competition. They taped performances in early December and submitted them to be judged last weekend.

“That was a pretty weird situation trying to do a competition in an empty arena in front of a camera with no judges, no spectators, no other competitors even,” Marinaro said. “It was definitely a – I don’t even know how to describe it.

“It was not normal, but Skate Canada did a good job and it looked pretty well. They did a pretty good job airing it and broadcasting it last weekend, so good job to them, but it was not an ideal situation for us.”

He and Moore-Towers haven’t competed in front of a crowd since they won bronze at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul last February.

They’re usually on the ice five days a week: three in Oakville and two in Brantford.

“We still have stuff to work on and try to improve because we can’t afford to take four weeks off at this time in the final 12 months of the career,” he said. “It’s just not feasible. Whatever the training looks like, we’re unsure, but we’ll be training. That’s for certain.”

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They may have to train like they did during the previous emergency. Two to three Skype sessions daily with their coaches, plus online classes for strength and fitness, psychology, and dance.

“We’re hoping for some good news tomorrow that we still have the exemption, but, if not, it’s back to training like March,” Marinaro said. “We’re still going to be training full-time, I guess from our homes, as much as we can to stay in shape.”

His home gym in Oakville has also gotten plenty of use during the pandemic.

“The home gym has been added onto every month, so we have pretty much everything we need,” he said. “It’s not the same as a real gym obviously, but we have enough stuff at home to do some training.”

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