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updated: 2/13/2018 8:47 AM

Knierims ready to jump right into pairs competition

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  • Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim of the United States perform in the team event pair skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018.

    Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim of the United States perform in the team event pair skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018.
    Associated Press

 
By Christopher Kwiecinski
Special to the Daily Herald

GANGNUENG, South Korea -- Alexa Scimeca Knierim was on the side of Olympic figure skating history Monday, but not before making sure it didn't have a self-inflicted blemish.

With Mirai Nagasu's start timer counting down, the Addison native Scimeca Knierim called out for Nagasu to begin her performance so she could avoid a one-point deduction.

"I'm not going to let her lose a point for that," Scimeca Knierim said.

Nagasu heard Scimeca Knierim, began her free skate and promptly became the first American woman figure skater to hit a triple axel in Olympic competition, as Team USA repeated as bronze medalists in the team event.

Scimeca Knierim, who played her part in the team event on Sunday by competing in pair free skate with her husband, Chris Knierim, didn't stop her fanfare there.

"I was just so proud of her, that I started screaming in the middle and didn't realize she had one more jumping pass," Scimeca Knierim said.

"I even heard her in the middle of my performance," Nagasu said.

After winning bronze in the team event, the Knierim's officially became the first married couple to win an Olympic medal together since Karen Lende and David O'Connor won bronze in the equestrian in 2000.

However, the two will now have a quick two-day turnaround before the pair skate their short program on Wednesday and free skate on Thursday.

In order to find motivation for the quick turnaround, Scimeca Knierim said she and her husband will draw their inspiration from their teammates' performances.

"When your teammates skate so well that you start to well up with tears, it's very motivational," Scimeca Knierim said.

"All I could think of was I'm glad I put on waterproof mascara."

Not only was the bronze the Knierims helped win the couple's first Olympic medal, it was also the first medal for the rest of Team USA's figure skaters.

Landing on the podium and defending the bronze left Scimeca Knierim and some of her team "feeling speechless."

However, Scimeca Knierim also said she and her husband would use the bronze as a tool to stay humble and as a reminder to enjoy the moment.

"We know we have a short turnaround before we start up again, so it will be very fresh in our minds," Scimeca Knierim said. "I'm pretty sure we'll think back to that and rely on that to give us the best mind set moving forward."

• Christopher Kwiecinski is a student at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism covering the Olympics in Pyeongchang. Follow him on Twitter at @OchoK_.

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