GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Chris Knierim and Alexa Scimeca Knierim delivered a strong short program here for the United States in pairs figure skating, enough to advance to the free skate. The skaters are married to each other. Wednesday, the first day of competition, was Valentine’s Day.
Afterward, Chris presented Alexa with a red card in the shape of a heart that read, “Will you be mine?”
Could this get any sappier?
“We were talking,” Chris said, ” ‘How are we ever going to top this Valentine’s Day?’ ”
“So, next year, Chris, what have you got up your sleeve?” Alexa joked back.
Meet America’s Couple: beautiful, talented and so trusting in each other that part of their routine requires Chris to throw Alexa high in the air, where she rotates four times, before he catches her and eases her back to the ice. All while on skates. In part because of that, she notes that when back home, she doesn’t worry about him forgetting to grab milk at the store.
Chris, 30, and Alexa, 26, are the first married couple to compete for the United States in pairs skating at the Olympics since 1988. On Wednesday, they delivered a 65.55 score in the short program to rank 14th. Their first interaction came in 2010, when both were competing at a sectional event in Wichita, Kansas. Alexa was an individual skater then. Chris was teamed up, platonically, with Carolyn-Ann Alba. After one day at sectionals, Chris decided to change out of his shirt in the lobby of the rink. Alexa happened to spot him.
“I thought he was pretty hot,” she said. “But that’s as far as it went. I didn’t know his name and I didn’t know anything about him other than seeing him.”
Two years later, each was seeking a pairs partner. Skating coach Dalilah Sappenfield thought they might make a good team. Chris, originally from California, was working (as an auto mechanic) and training in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Alexa, who hails from the Chicago suburb of Addison, Illinois, had been living in Connecticut.
She flew out to meet a potential partner. He was waiting at the airport.
“I picked her up in my Camaro,” Chris said.