By Miriam Raftery
View video of their Olympic debut performance: http://www.nbcsports.com/video/alexa-scimeca-knierim-chris-knierim-avoid-major-error-top-pairs-short
February 10, 2018 (Ramona) – Chris Knierim, a former Ramona resident, along with his wife and pair-skating partner Alexa Scimeca-Knierim, skated a nearly flawless short program during the first day of the team ice skating competition at the Olympic winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The duo nailed their triple twist and thrown jump, skating with exuberance and sheer joy to propel the U.S. into second place thus far, after much-heralded singles skater Nathan Chen had a rare botched performance with a fall and an invalid element.
In the pairs competition, Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim thrilled the crowd with a fourth-place, 69.75-point short program.
Chen did land one quadruple-double jump combination, enough to score 80.61 points. He, too, placed fourth. Since no other nation had competitors place in the top four in both pairs and male singles, the U.S. is now in fourth overall, after Canada, Israel and Japan.
"Everything we went through is so worth it to keep pushing forward and chasing our dreams, because it's moments like that where we just look at each other with so much joy and love," Scimeca-Knierim said.
The pair has overcome significant hardships. Alexa underwent major surgery for a stomach ailment and missed most of the last season. Chris has worked as an auto mechanic to fund ice time, going from repairing vehicle axles to landing axels on the ice.
Israel is not expected to medal, since the next portion of the competition will feature individual ladies’ and ice dancers’ short programs, with stronger competitors from other nations.
"[Putting this skate out of my mind] is definitely my approach right now,” Chen said. “No one wants to skate like that on Olympic ice. But it happens. Just take it and move on."
Canada leads the competition and Japan is in third.
On Sunday, the short dance, ladies short program and pairs free skate will take place. The team competition will conclude on Monday, Feb. 12 with the men’s and ladies free skate and the free dance. Participants in each of these segments will be announced the day before competition.
The Knierims are now well-positioned to potentially take home a medal in the team skating competition.
Their program has less technical difficulty than some other pair teams such as the Russians, and the Knierims struggles with side-by-side jumps in the past has led pundits to predict they have little chance of medaling in the individual pairs competition slated later during the Olympics. But their strong performances at U.S. Nationals and their Olympic debut show their capability of rising to the occasion; if more technically proficient competitors err on elements, the Knierims could surprise with an upset medal.