Michael Marinaro reached the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with a lifetime of support from his family.
His parents and brothers joined him there with the support of their community.
The 26-year-old figure skater from Sarnia will show his appreciation Sunday from 1-4 p.m. at the Point Edward community hall next to the arena.
“It’s to thank the community for the huge crowd-funder that they made for my family,” Marinaro said. “It’s to give back and say thank you and to get to see some faces that I haven’t seen in 10, 15 years, people that have been along with me through my journey throughout the years.”
A GoFundMe campaign raised almost $22,000 to help his parents, Bev and Albert, and brothers, Rob and Joe, attend the Winter Games in South Korea in February. Bev had recently broken her pelvis, so the money allowed her to fly first class.
They watched Marinaro make his Olympic debut. He and partner Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines placed 11th in pairs.
“They had a phenomenal time over there,” said Marinaro, whose career began with the Point Edward Skating Club.
His parents and brothers will be at Sunday’s meet-and-greet. Moore-Towers can’t attend, but her parents will be there.
Marinaro and Moore-Towers followed the Olympics with a sixth-place finish at the world championships in March in Milan, Italy. They had the fourth-best score in the free program and set a personal-best with a total score of 204.33.
“We definitely have some momentum building on the strong performance at the world championships,” he said. “Personally, I thought I was motivated before, but after getting to the Olympics and experiencing that, the motivation is on a whole new level.
“We are ready to take it into another gear and chase that Canadian title.”
Marinaro and Moore-Towers have won two consecutive bronze at the Canadian championships.
The gold is up for grabs next season with the retirement of seven-time national champions and two-world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
The rest of the top-five pairs at the last national championships will be back.
“Two, three, four, five – we will be battling it out for the top spot,” Marinaro said.
Marinaro and Moore-Towers have been busy working on new programs at their home base of Montreal.
“We’re already gearing up for next year,” he said. “We’ve already done our programs for next year. Now we just have two weeks off and we’re back at it (on June 11).”
The new programs are coming along well, he said. Fans will have to wait awhile to see them, but the free program will be different from what the duo has done before.
“One is a style we’re more comfortable with and one is a little bit of a departure,” Marinaro said.
They’re scheduled to compete at a Quebec meet in August and a relatively small international meet in September. They’ll use those events to receive judges’ feedback and warm up for the busy portion of the schedule.
Marinaro and Moore-Towers get their Grand Prix assignments in three weeks. They’ll skate at two events on the premier circuit and hope to be among the six pairs to qualify for the Grand Prix final Dec. 6-9 in Vancouver.
“The goals for next season are to make the Grand Prix final in Vancouver and to be Canadian champion,” Marinaro said.