Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Knierims Take Lead in U.S. Pairs Skating

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Knierims Take Lead in U.S. Pairs Skating

Article excerpt

Husband and wife Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim won the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Thursday in San Jose, Calif., even though he stumbled in a dangerous position just before a key element.

Both quickly recovered for a throw triple flip that they pulled off superbly. The rest of their program was not perfect Chris stepped out a side-by-side triple salchow, but it was good enough for 71.10 points. Much of that was built on a huge triple twist lift to open the program.

The 2015 national champions who have battled injuries the last two years were 2.17 points ahead of Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea. With 67.84 points were Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Nathan Bartholomay, a 2014 Sochi Olympian with a different partner.

The free skate is Saturday, with only one team advancing to next month's games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Pairs in the United States has struggled competitively for years and has seen ice dance surpass it. Thursday's short program, though, was performed at a higher level than at recent national championships.

The Knierims led the way, despite his nearly ruining the routine just before the throw triple flip.

"She tried to trip me," he joked.

"It was a pretty close call," his wife said. "I cut a hole in his pants. I did nick it.

"We've had that experience before where right before something happens and you have to be so trained, so focused that it didn't matter, and that was us today."

Alexa was been sidelined in the past seasons with a serious gastro illness. The Knierims appear healthy now, and hope to do a quad twist in the free skate.

The men's short program was late Thursday night.

Chen wins men's short program * Nathan Chen made it look easy on the ice and in the standings Thursday night, running away with the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The defending champion and America's best hope for an Olympic gold medal next month at the Pyeongchang Games, the 18-year-old Chen spun his usual quad magic, hitting two of the four-rotation jumps, one in competition. His energy lit up the SAP Center, and though his triple axel was funky, Chen earned 104. …

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