Sports

Addison pair skater Alexa Knierim turns in career-best sixth place finish in Olympics

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, of the United States, compete in the pairs free skate program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, in Beijing.

BEIJING, China — In the world of figure skating, Addison native Alexa Knierim is an anomaly.

At 30 years old, married and with a new partner on the ice, she’s skating better than ever. And she’s getting the Olympic results to show for it.

In a sport dominated by teens and young 20-somethings, Knierim and 29-year-old partner Brandon Frazier turned in a sixth place overall finish Saturday at Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium — the best result by an American pair in the Olympics since 2002. Their 212.68 overall score combined a sixth ranked tally of 74.43 points in Friday’s short program and a season-best score of 138.45 and seventh place mark in Saturday’s free skate.

“That was a crazy, amazing moment,” Knierim said. “It was what we’ve been working for and it just really fulfilled us with a lot of joy.”

Wearing a light-colored violent uniform with bright white skates that matched her partner’s purple-and-black outfit, Knierim opened her routine standing on top of a logo of the Olympic rings with her back against Frazier’s.

The near-flawless four-minute routine, choreographed to “Fix You” by Fearless Soul, featured a throw triple loop in which Frazier picked up Knierim and launched the Addison native into the air. Knierim landed elegantly on one foot and extended her arms. In the crowd, dozens of Team USA staffers, coaches and fellow athletes cheered and applauded.

The pair completed a similar sequence just before the halfway point of their routine, and also nailed a third throw in the final 30 seconds.

“That was by far our best skating,” Frazier said. “The minute the music started and the minute it ended, the way we held ourselves and performed it. I think the spirit of the program was at an all-time high.”

Knierim, an Addison Trail High School and College of DuPage graduate, has paired with Frazier for only 18 months — a short span compared to most of their international competitors. They teamed up a few months after Knierim’s husband and longtime ice partner Chris Knierim retired in early 2020.

A DuPage Figure Skating Club product, Knierim surpassed her 15th place finish in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics with Saturday’s sixth place result. She’s also leaving Beijing with at least a silver medal, achieved during the team event on Feb. 7. That medal could also turn into a gold, depending on the outcome of a doping investigation into Russian Olympic Committee skater Kamila Valieva.

Olympic officials announced on Feb. 10 that the 15-year-old Valieva, who skated for the ROC as part of the team’s gold-medal performance, had tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance in the lead-up to this month’s Winter Games.

Drilled with questions about the ongoing investigation into the ROC, Knierim and Frazier said they felt robbed of an opportunity to stand on the podium because the International Olympic Committee refused to hold a medal ceremony in the wake of Valieva’s positive test.

But the Addison native and her ice pair were more concerned about celebrating their success with their U.S. teammates in Beijing. Before leaving the ice on Saturday, Knierim bent down and touched the Olympic rings with both of her hands.

“There’s nothing more magical and special about skating on official Olympic ice, and I don’t know if we will be on it again,” she said.

After a few days to unwind, Knierim said, she’ll ponder how much further her meteoric rise might be able to continue. For starters, she and Frazier will travel the country beginning in April as part of the renowned Stars on Ice tour. One thing’s for certain: she’s not done skating yet.

“Nobody’s quitting,” she said. “We’re going to keep taking these new opportunities with excitement and joy, because that’s why we’ve been successful.

“The future for me is some KFC tonight and some ice cream.”