Junior skaters ready to kick it up a notch

Michael Marinaro and Margaret Purdy. (QMI Agency)

Michael Marinaro and Margaret Purdy. (QMI Agency)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:01 PM ET

MISSISSAUGA, ONT. - Michael Marinaro needed a little bit of arm-twisting before agreeing to skate his and Margaret Purdy's short program to some Puccini strains this season.

"It's a piece we listened to and Margaret really likes the violin," co-coach and choreographer Alison Purkiss said. "I'm a huge (Grammy Award-winning violinist) Joshua Bell fan, too. Mike was kind of lukewarm on it because it's slow and it's like this big love-story opera piece, but once we started to tell him about it, and said, 'It's an Italian opera, Mike', he was like, 'Hmmm.'

"At that point, we knew we had him sold."

They appealed to the 21-year-old Sarnia, Ont., native's Italian heritage.

Marinaro and Purdy, the Strathroy, Ont., native who turns 18 on Friday, are skating in senior this week at nationals in Mississauga, but they're still eligible to return to junior worlds, which will be held in Milan Feb. 25-March 3.

"Never been to Italy, so we're definitely super-excited that some family will co


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