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Olympic Figure Skater Chris Knierim To Retire; Wife And Partner Alexa Knierim To Skate On

By Chrös McDougall | Feb. 26, 2020, 3:56 p.m. (ET)

Christopher Knierim and Alexa Knierim celebrate at the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 24, 2020 in Greensboro, N.C.


Chris Knierim is hanging up his skates, while wife and figure skating partner Alexa Knierim plans to continue on with a new partner, the couple announced Wednesday.

As a result, the Olympians are withdrawing from next month’s world championships in Montreal and will be replaced by training partners Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson.

The decision was a result of mounting injuries for Chris Knierim, 32, who has also battled depression in recent years, he said in an interview with U.S. Figure Skating FanZone to announce his retirement. 

“I’ve been struggling with injuries — one gets better and then another pops up,” he said. “I’ve been struggling with my jumps a lot this season and now I’m ready to move on. But Alexa, she’s still gung-ho and ready to go, no doubt. She’s such an athlete and competitor. I support her 100 percent.”

Alexa, 28, said she plans to find a new partner and contend for a spot at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. Chris plans to join her coaching team.

The Knierims’ skating partnership formed in 2012, two years before they engaged. The couple married two years after that, in 2016.

Along the way they became the preeminent U.S. pairs team, winning three national titles in 2015, 2018 and 2020, and twice finishing as runners-up. They also skated in five world championships together and reached the 2015-16 ISU Grand Prix Final.

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Their pinnacle came at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, when their performance helped the U.S. claim the team bronze medal. They also finished 15th in the pairs competition.

However, their eight seasons together also brought challenges, including a broken leg for Chris in 2013, and Alexa (née Scimeca) being diagnosed with a life-threatening gastrointestinal condition three years later.

More recently, the couple has struggled to find the right training conditions, having moved three times and switched coaches twice since the 2018 Games. Chris, meanwhile, said he is receiving treatment for depression, a condition with which he has struggled for years and that worsened toward the end of 2019.

In the interview with U.S. Figure Skating, Alexa stood behind her husband’s decision.

“We know skating ends and life continues,” she said. “For us, our marriage, our relationship is what’s important.”

Chris said he is in full support of his wife as she continues on in the sport, too.

“I look forward to watching her keep skating and will support her in every way I can,” he said. “Alexa is very tenacious and strong. She's fire on the ice. Nothing can stop her.”

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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