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Moore-Towers and Marinaro captivate at Canadian Nationals

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro perform their Short Program to “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna.

2020 Canadian Nationals

Pairs’ Short Program

Skating to “Love on the Brain,” Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro struck captivating positions in their short program, winning the Pairs’ Short Program this afternoon in Mississauga with a measured throw triple twist and a steady throw triple loop. The duo’s elements unspooled with ease as the confident defending champions signaled that they are top-podium focused to other teams despite Moore-Towers’ step out on her side-by-side triple toe. The 2019 Skate Canada and NHK Trophy silver medalists scored 73.73.

“I am a little bummed,” admitted Moore-Towers. “I don’t usually miss my jumps, so I think there was just a minor lack of focus that led to an unfortunate step out.”

Despite the mistake, Moore-Towers remained positive. “Our twist is improving throughout the season. Our throw loop was really, really great. I think the spin was better than we have been doing so overall, we have a lot of good takeaways. But I am obviously focused a little bit on my glaring error.”

“Overall, we are happy with the performance and the mindset and the attack today,” added Marinaro. “The process, the practice, the competition was, I think, as we want and what we want to recreate. Today wasn’t perfect out there, but we are heading in the right direction and I think if we keep doing that process the way we want to, each step will be a little bit better. We are ready to come out tomorrow and bring our A-game and create a special moment at the event.”

The team teeters between focusing on securing a second national championship and setting themselves up for a personal best finish at the World Championships in Montreal.

“We know what we are going to have to score to get on the podium in Montreal, so we definitely have our sights set on those big, big numbers,” said Marinaro, “but right now, we are just working on the process to get there.”

Liubov Ilyushechkina and Charlie Bilodeau made a stunning debut at the nationals, weaving across the ice to “My Funny Valentine” by Michael Buble and scoring 71.23 in the short program. The team managed an impressive throw triple twist and a gritty throw triple flip. Ilyushechkina underrotated her side-by-side triple toe, but managed to stand up on it to avoid a fall. Their glorious dismount from the Axel lift, with Ilyushechkina swinging around Bolideau, impressed the audience.

“We knew that we put out a good skate for us,” said Bilodeau about his wait for the judges’ marks. “We kind of wait for the scores, but at the end, once the music finished, we know ‘Okay, yeah, we did what we were supposed to do. We did it well and let’s just be happy about that.’ We are happy with how we put it out there.”

“It’s very encouraging and very warm to be welcomed by the Canadian public and nice to be welcomed at one of my second homes, because I have so many homes all over the world,” said Ilyushechkina. “For us, it’s very important to keep our work and not get distracted by all the thoughts coming up and all the environment, and I am happy that we were able to manage our excitement and to skate one of our training programs.”

Less than a point behind their competitors, Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud scored 70.34 with a heartfelt interpretation of “Someone You Loved” featuring side-by-side triple toes, a throw triple twist and throw triple loop.

“We love this program and we wanted to share that feeling with everyone else and tell that story,” said Walsh. “Obviously, when the elements are going better, it’s easier to do that. We just felt like we did every element to the best of our abilities which is all you can ask for as an athlete.”

“Nationals is a really nice event,” Michaud added. “It is our favorite event to do. I don’t know if it’s the Canadian crowd or if it’s seeing all of our national team athletes in one spot, but it’s really nice to see everybody. We are just really happy to be able to put out that performance.”

This season, the duo struggled on the Grand Prix circuit, but mustered their might to perform to their expectations.

“It has been a difficult season, but we have definitely learned a ton from those events and I do not think this moment would be so special or we wouldn’t have been able to deliver that performance if we hadn’t had those events,” said Walsh. “We felt great going into nationals. We were training strong and we are looking forward to the free tomorrow.”

The team was assisted after Skate Canada International by Maxim Trankov who was in Canada participating in Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s Rock the Ice tour. Trankov specifically helped with their throw triple twist.

“That was super cool,” said Michaud. “I was fan-girling the whole time!”

Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland placed fourth with a score of 62.63, closely followed by Justine Brasseur and Mark Bardei (62.29).

Placing sixth with a score of 57.06, former U.S. pairs’ skater Deanna Stellato debuted at the Canadian Skating Championships with new partner Maxime Deschamps.