He took an alternative route, but Sarnia's Michael Marinaro is heading to the World Figure Skating Championships after all.
"We are definitely very excited to get the opportunity to compete for Canada," said Marinaro, who with partner Kirsten Moore-Towers will challenge the world’s best next month in Boston.
Their chance came about because of an injury to Canadian pairs skater Julianne Séguin, which forced her and partner Charlie Bilodeau to withdraw.
It’s not how Marinaro hoped to earn his spot. He and Moore-Towers suffered a bad fall during their short program at the Nationals in Halifax.
Their fourth-place finish was one spot short and dashed their hopes of representing Canada. But in figure skating, you can go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a heartbeat.
"You have to be able to brush things off and get back up and take things as they come," said Marinaro, a 23-year-old graduate of the Point Edward Figure Skating Club. "We are ready to take advantage of this opportunity."
Marinaro said he’s proud of how he and Moore-Towers rebounded from their spill to skate the rest of the program flawlessly. They then battled adversity and their own injuries to complete the long program, despite knowing a podium finish was out of the question.
It was a bitter pill. The pair had moved to Montreal to train with five new coaches and a new choreographer in a bid to crack the podium at Nationals. Their programs were polished and they were ready to compete against a competitive Canadian field that included the reigning world champs, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
Marinaro said after Halifax they began to look ahead to next season.
And then came the call.
They have little time to prepare before flying to Boston on March 29. They’ll skate their short and free skate routines April 1 and 2, broadcast live on CBC.
Earlier this year, Marinaro and Moore-Towers won a bronze medal at the Skate Canada International event in Lethbridge, Alberta ‑ their first Grand Prix medal since becoming partners in 2014.
Marinaro won several international medals at the junior level with former partner Margaret Purdy of Strathroy, including silver at the Junior World Championships in Milan in 2013.
Meanwhile, this will be 24-year-old Moore-Towers' fourth time at the World Championships.
The support they’ve received has been overwhelming, Marinaro said, adding hometown supporters have been blitzing his social media and cell phone with positive messages.
"I'm very proud to be from Sarnia and represent Sarnia," he said.
Their goal is to crack the top 10 in Beantown and then ultimately represent Canada at the 2018 and 2022 Olympic Games.