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Christopher "Chris" Knierim (born November 5, 1987) is an American pair skater. With his wife, Alexa Scimeca Knierim, he is a 2018 Olympic bronze medalist in the figure skating team event, the 2016 Four Continents silver medalist, the 2014 Four Continents bronze medalist, a three-time Grand Prix medalist, and a two-time U.S. national champion (2015, 2018). At the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Knierims became the first American pair, and the second pair ever in history, to perform a quad twist at the Olympics.

Chris Knierim
2015 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final Alexa Scimeca Chris Knierim IMG 8497.JPG
Scimeca Knierim and Knierim in 2015
Personal information
Full nameChristopher Knierim
Country representedUnited States
Born (1987-11-05) November 5, 1987 (age 32)
Tucson, Arizona
Height1.89 m (6 ft 2 12 in)
PartnerAlexa Scimeca Knierim
Former partnerAndrea Poapst, Carolyn-Ann Alba, Brynn Carman, Shawnee Smith
CoachTodd Sand, Jenni Meno, Rafael Arutyunyan
Former coachAljona Savchenko, Dalilah Sappenfield, Larry Ibarra, Eddie Shipstad
ChoreographerBenoit Richaud
Former choreographerChristopher Dean, Cindy Stuart, Ben Agosto, Rohene Ward, Julie Marcotte, Igor Shpilband, Catarina Lindgren, Dalilah Sappenfield
Skating clubBroadmoor SC
Training locationsIrvine, California
Began skating2000
ISU personal best scores
Combined total207.96
2016 Four Continents
Short program72.17
2017 World Championships
Free skate140.35
2016 Four Continent

Personal lifeEdit

Christopher Knierim was born November 5, 1987, in Tucson, Arizona.[1] When he was six months old, his mother DeeDee began dating her future husband, Jeffrey Knierim, who adopted Chris.[2] He has an older brother, Tyson,[3] along with two younger siblings. The family lived in Ramona, California before moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2006, to focus on Knierim's skating career.[4]

In addition to skating, Knierim took classes at a local college and worked as an auto mechanic.[4] Knierim and Alexa Scimeca became skating partners in April 2012, and began dating about a month later. They became engaged on April 8, 2014,[5] and married on June 26, 2016, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[6] The couple currently lives and trains in Irvine, California.

Skating careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Knierim started skating at age 12.[4] He began a partnership with Brynn Carman in February 2006.[7] They were coached by Dalilah Sappenfield in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[4] The pair won the novice national title at the 2008 U.S. Championships and the junior silver medal at the 2009 U.S. Championships. They announced the end of their partnership on April 9, 2009.[7]

Knierim began skating with Carolyn-Ann Alba in 2009. They won the junior pairs title at the 2010 Midwestern Sectional Championships[8] and the junior pewter medal at the 2010 U.S. Championships, after which they parted ways.

Knierim began a partnership with Andrea Poapst in July 2010.[9] They won the junior title at the 2011 Midwestern Sectional Championships and the junior silver medal at the 2011 U.S. Championships. Poapst/Knierim won the gold medal at the 2011 Ice Challenge, their first senior international together.[10] They parted ways at the end of the 2011–2012 season.

Teaming up with Alexa Scimeca and 2012–2013 seasonEdit

Coach Dalilah Sappenfield suggested that Knierim skate with Alexa Scimeca. They teamed up in April 2012.[11] They began training with Sappenfield, Larry Ibarra, and various other coaches at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[12]

Scimeca/Knierim won the gold medal in their first international event, the 2012 Coupe Internationale de Nice in October.[11] After a number of withdrawals by other teams, they received a Grand Prix assignment, the 2012 NHK Trophy in November, where they placed fourth.

The pair won the silver medal at the 2013 U.S. Championships in January. They were assigned to the 2013 Four Continents Championships but withdrew just before the event when Scimeca injured her right foot in practice.[13] Scimeca/Knierim were named to the U.S. team for the 2013 World Championships after Caydee Denney / John Coughlin withdrew.[14] They placed ninth in their World Championships debut in March.

2013–2014 seasonEdit

Scimeca/Knierim experienced a setback that hampered their season when Knierim broke his left fibula in July. He underwent surgery that placed a metal plate and nine screws in his ankle.[15] While Knierim was able to heal relatively quickly, the team believed they rushed back to competition a bit too soon. In January, they won the pewter medal at the 2014 U.S. Championships and were named second alternates to the 2014 Winter Olympic team. They then won the bronze medal at the 2014 Four Continents Championships. Their second place short program score of 66.04 set a new record for the highest score ever achieved by a U.S. pair team. Knierim had additional surgery in March to remove the metal hardware in his leg, which had been causing discomfort.[16]

2014–2015 season: First national titleEdit

Scimeca/Knierim won the gold medal in their first ISU Challenger series event, the 2014 U.S. International Classic, and won the bronze medal at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy. They were assigned two Grand Prix events, placing fourth at both 2014 Skate America and 2014 Trophée Éric Bompard.

At the 2015 U.S. Championships, Scimeca/Knierim captured their first national title, setting new U.S. record scores in both the short program and the free skate. They also became the first American pair team in history to perform a quadruple twist in competition.[16]

At the 2015 Four Continents Championships, Scimeca/Knierim placed fifth and earned new ISU personal best scores of 124.44 in the free skate and 187.98 total, setting new records for the highest scores ever achieved by a U.S. pair team in an international event. At the 2015 World Championships, the pair placed 7th, the highest finish by a U.S. pair since 2011. They then competed at the 2015 World Team Trophy, finishing 4th in the short program and 3rd in the free skate, which ultimately was a key factor in Team USA winning the gold medal. Scimeca/Knierim earned new personal best scores of 127.87 in the free skate and 192.09 total, setting new records once again for the highest scores ever recorded by a U.S. pair team in international competition.[17]

Scimeca/Knierim won SKATING magazine’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Skaters of the Year Award, also known as the Michelle Kwan Trophy.[18]

2015–2016 season: First Grand Prix medals and silver at Four ContinentsEdit

Scimeca/Knierim began their season at 2015 Nebelhorn Trophy where they won the silver medal behind reigning Olympic champions Tatiana Volosozhar / Maxim Trankov.[19] The team then competed at 2015 Skate America where they won the silver medal. They earned a new personal best short program score of 69.69, setting a new record for the highest score ever achieved by a U.S. pair team in international competition. The following week, they won the gold medal at 2015 Ice Challenge in Graz, Austria.

Scimeca/Knierim went on to win the bronze medal at 2015 NHK Trophy which helped qualify them for the 2015–16 Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, where they placed seventh. They were the first U.S. pair since 2007 to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.[20] The pair entered the 2016 U.S. Championships as the heavy favorite for the title, but won the silver medal after costly errors.

At the 2016 Four Continents Championships, Scimeca/Knierim won the silver medal in their best competitive outing to date.[21] They earned new personal best scores of 140.35 in the free skate and 207.96 total, which are the highest scores ever recorded by a U.S. pair team in international competition.[17] A subsequent injury to Knierim limited the team's training before the 2016 World Championships, where they placed 9th. They were 7th in the short program with a personal best score of 71.37, which set a new record for the highest score ever achieved by a U.S. pair team in international competition.[17] The pair then competed for Team North America at the inaugural 2016 Team Challenge Cup, where the team won the gold medal.

2016–2017 season: Major illness, surgery, and successful returnEdit

Alexa Scimeca Knierim became sick in April 2016, and her illness interrupted the Knierims' training throughout the summer months. She was properly diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening gastrointestinal condition in August and underwent two abdominal surgeries that month.[22][23] The pair resumed light training in late September.[24] Scimeca Knierim underwent additional surgery on November 1 and returned to training by the middle of that month.[22]

Scimeca Knierim's illness involved regular episodes of vomiting, debilitating pain, difficulties with sleeping, eating or drinking, as well as significant weight loss.[22] Already small, she lost 20 pounds and shrunk to just over 80 pounds.[25][26] Knierim stated that when his wife initially returned to the ice following surgery, she had to hold his hands just to skate a lap around the rink and could only skate for 10 minutes before having to go home for a nap because it was so physically draining on her body.[27] The pair withdrew from both of their Grand Prix events, the 2016 Rostelecom Cup and 2016 Cup of China, and the 2017 U.S. Championships. They resumed full training in January[28] and were named to the U.S. team for both the 2017 Four Continents Championships and the 2017 World Championships.

In February, the Knierims made a strong return to competition at the 2017 Four Continents Championships, where they placed sixth in a deep field of Chinese and Canadian pairs. Their total score was the second highest score ever achieved by a U.S. pair team, behind only their score from Four Continents the prior year. The pair then competed at the 2017 World Championships, where they skated two strong programs and placed 10th in an exceptionally deep field. 5th through 10th place were separated by just 4.35 points. They placed 8th in the short program with a personal best score of 72.17, the highest score ever achieved by a U.S. pair team. They were the only U.S. pair to qualify for the free skate. Their total score of 202.37 is the second highest in U.S. pairs history, and they are the only U.S. pair to have ever surpassed the 200 point barrier.[29] This was the Knierims' fourth top 10 finish in their four Worlds appearances. They are the only U.S. pair in the past five years to have earned top 10 finishes at the World Championships.

2017–2018 season: Second national title and Pyeongchang OlympicsEdit

The Knierims began their season at the 2017 U.S. International Classic, where they won the silver medal and were narrowly edged by Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro. They placed 1st in the free skate after having changed their long program in the week prior to the event.[30] The team then competed at two Grand Prix events, 2017 NHK Trophy and 2017 Skate America, where they placed a solid fifth in deep fields at both events. It was revealed after Skate America that Chris Knierim was recovering from a patella injury.[31] The Knierims have been the top U.S. finisher at every international event they have entered for the past three years. Their scores throughout the Grand Prix season were the clear highest by a U.S. pair team.

At the 2018 U.S. Championships, the Knierims won their second National title with a score of 206.60. They placed 1st in the short program, 1st in the free skate, and performed a quadruple twist in competition for the first time since 2016. They are one of the only pairs in the world capable of doing a quad twist. Following the event, the Knierims were named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team that competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They were the sole U.S. pair team at this Olympic Games.[32]

At the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Knierims won an Olympic bronze medal in the figure skating team event as a key part of the U.S. team. They placed a strong 4th in the short program with a season's best score, and placed 4th in the free skate. Their total score was the highest of their season. In the pair event, they were 14th in the short program and finished 15th overall in what was the strongest Olympic pair competition to date. In the free skate, the Knierims became the first U.S. pair, and the second pair ever in history, to successfully perform a quad twist at the Olympics.[33]

Weeks later, the Knierims competed at the 2018 World Championships. They placed 11th in the short program with a strong performance and were less than three points from the top 5. They finished 15th overall after an uncharacteristically shaky skate by Alexa that included a fall on a death spiral. They were the only U.S. pair to qualify for the free skate.

On May 14, 2018, U.S. Figure Skating announced that the Knierims had left their coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, to train with 2018 Olympic champion Aljona Savchenko and her coaching staff. They began training part-time in Oberstdorf, Germany.[34]

2018–2019 seasonEdit

The Knierims started their season at 2018 Nebelhorn Trophy where they won the silver medal. They placed 1st in the short program and finished 2nd overall, just one point from 1st. They then competed at their first Grand Prix event of the season, 2018 Skate America, where they placed 4th. They were without a coach at the event, and it was announced on October 20, 2018, in the middle of the free skate, that they had very recently split from their coach Aljona Savchenko, which the Knierims confirmed after the event.[35]

In early November, the Knierims won the bronze medal at their second Grand Prix event, 2018 NHK Trophy, ahead of Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro. They were coached at the event by Todd Sand and had relocated to California during the two weeks between their Grand Prix events. They officially began training with Jenni Meno and Todd Sand in late November. In early December, they won the silver medal at 2018 Golden Spin of Zagreb, placing 1st in the free skate and finishing one point from 1st overall.

In January at the 2019 U.S. Championships, the Knierims placed a very unexpected seventh after a series of unusual mishaps. In the short program, they had an uncharacteristic big error on their signature triple twist, typically their best element.[36] In the free skate, they surprisingly aborted their second lift and missed their third lift entirely. It was revealed after the competition that Chris Knierim had been suffering from a torn wrist ligament that requires surgery to repair. He remarked afterward that "the program went how our year went, a lot of unplanned mishaps."[37] He underwent surgery to repair his wrist during the off-season.[38]

2019–2020 seasonEdit

The Knierims added Rafael Arutyunyan to their coaching team during the off-season. They had a strong start to their season at 2019 CS Nebelhorn Trophy where they won the silver medal with a total score of 202.41. Their free skate score of 131.58 was the highest score ever achieved by a U.S. pair team under the current version of the judging system.[38] They then competed at their first Grand Prix event of the season, Skate Canada, where they placed 4th, less than three points behind reigning World silver medalists Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.[39][40]

ProgramsEdit

With Scimeca KnierimEdit

Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
2019–2020
[41]
2018–2019
[42]
2017–2018
[43]

  • Ghost the Musical
    (including Unchained Melody)
    by Bruce Joel Rubin, Dave Stewart,
    and Glen Ballard


2016–2017
[44][45]
  • Ghost the Musical
    (including Unchained Melody)
    by Bruce Joel Rubin, Dave Stewart,
    and Glen Ballard
2015–2016
[1][46]

2014–2015
[44][47]

2013–2014
[48][49]
2012–2013
[50][51][52]

With PoapstEdit

Season Short program Free skating
2011–2012
[9]
2010–2011
[9]

With CarmanEdit

Season Short program Free skating
2008–2009
[53][54]
2006–2007
[4]
  • Nightmare
    by Brain Bug
  • City Slickers
    by Marc Shaiman

Competitive highlightsEdit

GP: Grand Prix; CS: Challenger Series; JGP: Junior Grand Prix

With Scimeca KnierimEdit

International[55]
Event 12–13 13–14 14–15 15–16 16–17 17–18 18–19 19–20
Olympics 15th
Worlds 9th 7th 9th 10th 15th
Four Continents WD 3rd 5th 2nd 6th
GP Final 7th
GP France 4th
GP Cup of China 5th WD
GP NHK Trophy 4th 3rd 5th 3rd TBD
GP Rostelecom Cup 6th WD
GP Skate America 4th 2nd 5th 4th
GP Skate Canada 4th
CS Golden Spin 2nd
CS Ice Challenge 1st
CS Nebelhorn 3rd 2nd 2nd 2nd
CS U.S. Classic 1st 2nd
Cup of Nice 1st
Nepela Trophy 3rd
National[44]
U.S. Championships 2nd 4th 1st 2nd WD 1st 7th
Midwestern Sectionals 1st
Team events
Olympics 3rd T
4th P
World Team Trophy 1st T
4th P
Team Challenge Cup 1st T
3rd P
WD = Withdrew
T = Team result; P = Personal result. Medals awarded for team result only.

With PoapstEdit

International[56]
Event 2010–11 2011–12
Ice Challenge 1st
National[9]
U.S. Championships 2nd J 7th
Midwestern Sectionals 1st J
J = Junior level

With AlbaEdit

National
Event 2009–10
U.S. Championships 4th J
Midwestern Sectionals 1st J
J = Junior level

With CarmanEdit

International[57]
Event 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09
World Junior Champ. 9th
JGP Belarus 5th
JGP Mexico 9th
National[54]
U.S. Championships 4th N 1st N 2nd J
Midwestern Sectionals 2nd N 1st N 1st J
Levels: N = Novice; J = Junior

Detailed resultsEdit

Small medals for short and free programs awarded only at ISU Championships. At team events, medals awarded for team results only. ISU personal best scores highlighted in bold. Personal best scores from before the 2018-2019 judging system change highlighted in bold and italic. These scores also denote the highest scores ever achieved by a U.S. pair under that system.

With Scimeca KnierimEdit

2019–20 season
Date Event SP FS Total
November 22-24, 2019 2019 NHK Trophy
TBD

TBD

TBD
October 25-27, 2019 2019 Skate Canada International 4
71.28
4
128.29
4
199.57
September 25-28, 2019 2019 CS Nebelhorn Trophy 2
70.83
2
131.58
2
202.41
2018–19 season
Date Event SP FS Total
January 19-27, 2019 2019 U.S. Championships 7
61.56
7
109.86
7
171.42
December 5-8, 2018 2018 Golden Spin of Zagreb 3
64.04
1
118.80
2
182.84
November 9-11, 2018 2018 NHK Trophy 4
64.75
3
125.74
3
190.49
October 19-21, 2018 2018 Skate America 5
57.31
4
114.25
4
171.56
September 26-29, 2018 2018 Nebelhorn Trophy 1
61.73
3
115.49
2
177.22
2017–18 season
Date Event SP FS Total
March 19-25, 2018 2018 World Championships 11
69.55
15
112.49
15
182.04
February 14-25, 2018 2018 Winter Olympics 14
65.55
15
120.27
15
185.82
February 9-12, 2018 2018 Winter Olympics (Team event) 4
69.75
4
126.56
3T
196.31
January 3-7, 2018 2018 U.S. Championships 1
71.10
1
135.50
1
206.60
November 24-26, 2017 2017 Skate America 5
64.27
6
124.80
5
189.07
November 10-12, 2017 2017 NHK Trophy 4
65.86
5
126.65
5
192.51
September 14-16, 2017 2017 U.S. International Classic 3
61.32
1
124.76
2
186.08
2016–17 season
Date Event SP FS Total
March 29- April 2, 2017 2017 World Championships 8
72.17
11
130.20
10
202.37
February 14-19, 2017 2017 Four Continents Championships 6
69.10
6
124.81
6
193.91
2015–16 season
Date Event SP FS Total
April 22-24, 2016 2016 Team Challenge Cup - 3
122.15
1T
March 28- April 3, 2016 2016 World Championships 7
71.37
12
118.69
9
190.06
February 16-21, 2016 2016 Four Continents Championships 3
67.61
2
140.35
2
207.96
January 15-24, 2016 2016 U.S. Championships 2
67.35
2
129.45
2
196.80
December 10-13, 2015 2015 Grand Prix Final 6
68.14
7
109.28
7
177.42
November 26-29, 2015 2015 NHK Trophy 2
68.43
3
122.23
3
190.66
October 27-31, 2015 2015 Ice Challenge 1
68.74
1
120.54
1
189.28
October 22-25, 2015 2015 Skate America 1
69.69
4
122.28
2
191.97
September 23-26, 2015 2015 Nebelhorn Trophy 4
58.00
2
121.56
2
179.56
2014–15 season
Date Event SP FS Total
March 23-29, 2015 2015 World Team Trophy 4
64.22
3
127.87
1T
192.09
March 23-29, 2015 2015 World Championships 7
65.56
7
120.25
7
185.81
February 10-15, 2015 2015 Four Continents Championships 5
63.54
5
124.44
5
187.98
January 17-25, 2015 2015 U.S. Championships 1
74.01
1
136.48
1
210.49
November 20-23, 2014 2014 Trophée Éric Bompard 4
59.04
3
120.28
4
179.32
October 23-26, 2014 2014 Skate America 4
60.61
4
108.01
4
168.62
September 25-27, 2014 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy 3
55.29
3
110.81
3
166.10
September 11-14, 2014 2014 U.S. International Classsic 2
49.00
1
114.24
1
163.24
2013–14 season
Date Event SP FS Total
January 20-25, 2014 2014 Four Continents Championships 2
66.04
4
104.31
3
170.35
January 5-12, 2014 2014 U.S. Championships 5
64.68
4
124.99
4
189.67
November 22-24, 2013 2013 Rostelecom Cup 5
59.56
6
114.14
6
173.70
November 1-3, 2013 2013 Cup of China 4
57.99
6
103.73
5
161.72
October 2-5, 2013 2013 Ondrej Nepela Trophy 2
51.17
3
102.17
3
153.34
2012–13 season
Date Event SP FS Total
March 11-17, 2013 2013 World Championships 12
55.73
9
117.78
9
173.51
January 20-27, 2013 2013 U.S. Championships 3
52.79
1
119.96
2
172.75
November 22-25, 2012 2012 NHK Trophy 5
54.41
4
108.69
4
163.10
October 24-28, 2012 2012 Coupe Internationale de Nice 1
59.01
2
96.99
1
156.00

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit