When Sarnia’s Michael Marinaro and partner Kirsten Moore-Towers took to the ice at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics last week it seemed like half of Sarnia-Lambton was watching.
Among those glued to their TV was former skate coach Carol Shrumm, who was overwhelmed to see her student from the Point Edward Figure Skating Club perform so well on the world’s biggest stage.
“They were terrific,” she said. “I cried through probably the last half (of their skate).”
Marinaro and Moore-Towers finished 11th overall in the pairs competition. They were 12th after the short program on Feb. 13 and 9th in the free skate, thanks to a strong performance on Valentine’s Day.
Germany won gold, China took silver and Canada’s Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel claimed the bronze medal.
Shrumm said there was always something spectacular about Marinaro. She and teaching partner Magy Salmoni worked closely with him from the age of seven at the Point Edward Arena.
“You don’t really see that much talent at that age,” said Shrumm, who coached her star pupil for eight years.
“He worked so hard and gave everything he had, even when he was little.”
That dedication to craft is what took him to the Olympics, she added.
“Certainly, you have to have the talent. But I would say the burning desire in your heart will win over that any day, and Michael Marinaro had that burning desire in his heart from the very beginning.”
Shrumm, who has retired from coaching, admits she was “tyrant” on the ice. But you have to demand a lot to get something in return, she said.
Shrumm and Salmoni worked with Marinaro until he was 15. Even after he left to pursue his Olympic dream he made time to return for skate shows in the village, she said.
Marinaro, 26, and Moore-Towers, 25, earned their spot on Canada’s 17-member skating team – the largest at the Olympics – by winning bronze at the Canadian National Championships on Jan. 13.
He won the 2013 World Junior silver medal and 2010 Canadian national junior championship with former partner Margaret Purdy.
Marinaro and Moore-Towers have been partners since 2014.
This is the second Olympics for Moore-Towers, a St. Catharine’s native, who skated at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi with former partner Dylan Moscovitch.
They finished 5th in pairs and won a silver medal as part of the team event.