Kirsten Moore-Towers is the reigning Canadian national champion in Pairs, along with partner Michael Marinaro.
Born in Ontario, Canada, Kirsten started skating when she was 2 and switched to pairs at 16. Since her senior debut in 2009, Kirsten has gone on to represent Canada at 6 World Championships and 2 Olympics.
We had the opportunity to catch up with Kirsten about her career so far, her recent move from Montreal to Oakville, and her partnership with Michael.
The post Olympic season showed a shift for Canadian figure skating, specifically for pairs where three of your main competitive teams either retired or ended their partnerships. Did that change anything about how you approached last season and, overall, how did you feel at the end of it?
Last season, overall, was a bit up and down for us. With the big shift of the pair event we took on too much pressure to carry Canadian pairs, as opposed to being our best selves in everyday training. It was a tough lesson for me particularly and I learned quickly to change my mindset and focus only on the things I could control.
The second half of our season was a mix of good and some disappointment. We were thrilled with our Four Continents performances and just weren’t able to put it together at Worlds. It was in no way any indication of how we had been preparing at home so we were a bit gutted. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes!
Least Favourite Element
With the World Championships in Montreal this year, which will be your second Worlds at home, do you have your sights set on the podium? Do you feel like you know what you have to do to get there?
I will preface this answer by saying that my first worlds in Canada was one of my most favourite events ever! When we learned that worlds would be in Canada again, and in Montreal, no less, we were so excited and determined to be a driving force there.
We, of course, haven’t yet qualified for the event and always try not to get ahead of ourselves. I will say that we have been working really hard during the off season to eliminate our weaknesses so that when the time comes, we will be competitive with the world. The podium is ALWAYS in our sights.
Ten years ago, you made your international senior debut at Skate Canada. Do you remember how you felt before that competition and how much has that feeling changed over the years?
Ten years ago sounds crazy. I was 17 at that Skate Canada and looking back on it I realize how naive I was. There is something beautiful about naivety in sport because you really have no idea how you ‘should’ be feeling. Skate Canada was in our ‘hometown’ (for training) of Kitchener, Waterloo, so pretty much everyone I knew was there. We skated two clean programs and got our first standing ovation. I don’t think we scored very well because my skating skills were close to nonexistent but we were so proud!
Now that I’m a little more ‘experienced’ I definitely get a bit more nervous than I used to. I try to always keep sport in perspective but with my competitive and perfectionist nature, it definitely poses a challenge.
Favourite country to compete in?
Canada, always! Outside of Canada: Japan!!!
Music you’ve always wanted to skate to?
No idea. I NEVER have music ideas
What have been some of the most memorable moments of your career so far?
Nothing in my career so far can compare to the moment Mike and I qualified for the 2018 Olympics. The Canadian pair contingency was so strong and we felt a little like longshot hopefuls. It was far more special for me than qualifying for my first Olympics because the road to get there was so much more difficult.
I will add that winning a silver medal with team Canada at the Sochi Olympics was really special for me as well. There was something about being on the inaugural team that felt like it would bind us forever.
Last but not least, skating at Worlds at home in 2013 was so fun. I will never forget skating into our last lift and not being able to hear our music because the crowd was so loud. Additionally, after we were finished I was walking up the stairs into the stands to cheer on our Canadian teammates and the audience members around me all stood and clapped as I was walking by. Super, super cool. Canadians rock.
You’ve performed a catalogue of vastly different programs, so what has been your favourite one?
This is a tough question! I think my favourite program I had with Dylan was our Queen Medley free program. It was special to compete it at home at Worlds in 2013.
With Mike my favourite is probably our free program to Un Ange Passe. We used it for the Olympic year in 2018 and the year prior to that as well. It brings me lots of good memories.
You’ve recently moved training locations from Montreal to Oakville. Can you talk about how the move went and the decision-making process that goes into changing your training camps?
Moving was definitely a hard decision for us. When we learned that our coaches would no longer be working together we knew we were in for big changes regardless of what we chose. We had a tough time deciding because we loved both of our head coaches and had felt that they both brought something to our team. We spent most of our off season deliberating and taking advice from our superiors. When it came down to it, we decided that we would follow Bruno back home to Ontario and start fresh. A new school meant a lot of motivated coaches working to get it off the ground and the energy, lead by Bruno, is amazing. An added bonus of moving was being able to work with Alison Purkiss and train part time with Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud [2019 Canadian Pairs silver medalists]. We admire Ali and respect the work she’s done over the years and we were excited to have her on our team. We really miss our whole team in Montreal, but Skate Oakville has welcomed us with open arms and we love our home there.
We saw that you were still doing off-ice training via FaceTime with your old team in Montreal. Are you continuing that and is it more challenging?
Yes! We thought that it would pose more of a challenge than it has. We are able to get our workouts and be monitored by our trainer, Patrick Magee, while joining our old workout group. We have gone back to Montreal once a month to see Pat, get treatment, fine tune our gym programs, and see Julie Marcotte to clean our programs. So far, it’s working out swimmingly, but we will make adjustments if need be.
Favourite gym exercise?
Anything that makes me feel strong.
Favourite quality about your partner?
His ability to know when he needs to take the lead. (among one million others)
What was it like creating a new partnership with Michael back in 2014 and what is the best thing about having him as a partner?
Starting our partnership was a lot harder than I think either of us anticipated. We did not come together as quickly as we thought we would and everything seemed really hard. We chose each other because we knew that we would enjoy the day to day training and the cliche ‘journey’ as much as we would enjoy our destinations. The beginning of the journey was tough and sometimes felt like it was never coming together. I guess some things just take time.
Mike makes everything fun and is quick to put things in perspective. He’s goofy and charismatic. Our coaches and training mates could testify that there is truly never a dull moment.
Inspirational Quote to keep you motivated?
Have you been working on any new elements during the off-season? How do you decide what elements to include in competition?
Our off season was dedicated almost entirely to rebuilding our twist. We of course worked on new lifts and fine tuning our elements, but we knew that our twist has been our weakness and needed improvement. It was at times a fun challenge and at times incredibly frustrating. We are still a work in progress but are happy with the steps we’ve made. We have also been working with the jump coaches at Skate Oakville, particularly, Brian Shales, and it has been so fun to challenge ourselves with new jumps and to succeed at things that we didn’t know we could do. Hopefully we will incorporate some of our new combinations in competition at some point.
What meal best fuels you before a competition? How do you treat yourself afterwards?
I have the hardest time eating on competition day!!! I try to find things that are easy to eat with a lot of nutritional value. It’s been a career long struggle. You might see me with a Chocolate soy milk box on the boards at a competition practice. I have one every single day at home too. I suppose I’m somewhat a creature of habit.
Treating myself varies. A funny story that seems to always get brought up is that Mike walked into my hotel room at midnight at the 2014 Nationals after Dylan and I qualified for the Olympics and I was simultaneously eating pizza and ice cream. Not my finest moment I guess 😛
When you’re not busy training, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to read fiction books, I love being in the sunshine, anything to do with dogs, a good ROM COM. I am usually doing some sort of school course but I don’t know that that’s something I necessarily ‘like’ to do in my spare time.
Favourite thing to do to relax?
Read. Or go to the dog park.
Favourite TV Show/Movie/Book?
Friends. Movie and book always vary
3 things you can’t leave the house without?
Is it lame to say it depends where I’m going? That’s not how rapid fire works, I guess, but it’s all I’ve got.
If you hadn’t been a skater, what career would you have pursued? And what would you like to do in the future after skating?
I was the kid who skated seven days a week because she wanted to so I’ve never been able to imagine what I might’ve done instead.
I’m still undecided about the future but I know that I will never fully leave the sport. I’m not sure to what capacity or what that means yet, but I’m working on it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
It doesn’t matter!!!
Let it go!!
What do you like to do on vacation and do you have any countries you’d like to visit?
I used to think I liked lounging on vacation but this year I went to Hawaii and almost strictly went hiking and exploring. I loved it and can’t see myself doing anything different moving forward. A few destinations on my bucket list are: Greece, the Amalfi Coast, and French Polynesia.
Describe your perfect day from start to finish! (Wakeup time, food, activities?)
I wake up whenever my body wants. I don’t eat because I’m too focused on the 100 puppies that are playing all around me. I never go to bed because no way this happens again.
Kirsten and Michael started their season at North York Summer Skate and will continue at Nebelhorn Trophy, which takes place from September 25th-28th.
Their two Grand Prix assignments are Skate Canada (25th-27th October) and NHK Trophy (22nd-24th November).
All photos courtesy of Kirsten’s Instagram.