(L-R) Brandon Frazier and Alexa Knierim skate in the pair skating short program team event during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 04, 2022 in Beijing.
Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier made history on Dec. 9.
The duo won a silver medal at the ISU Grand Prix Final in Torino, Italy, marking the first time a U.S. pair has captured a medal at the prestigious event.
The world pair champions skated two strong programs but were edged out for gold by Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan, 214.58 points to 213.28 points. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii won bronze with 187.02 points.
Competing at Torino’s Palavela, the site of the 2006 Olympic figure skating event, Knierim and Frazier placed second to the Japanese in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate.
The Americans earned a personal best 77.65 points for their dynamic short to Journey’s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” and entered the free skate just .43 points off the lead.
“We both skated from our hearts, and we skated with passion, and we are very proud and happy with how we skated today,” Knierim, 31, said on Thursday.
“It was much improved from our last event, which has been our focus this season – taking one event and getting better into the next," she added.
The six-event fall Grand Prix Series was created by the International Skating Union (ISU) in 1995. The top six skaters or teams in each discipline – men, women, pairs and ice dance – qualify for the Final. Knierim and Frazier, 30, earned their way to Torino with wins at Skate America in October and the MK John Wilson Trophy last month.
The veteran pair teamed up in March 2020 after long, successful careers with other partners. Knierim won three U.S. titles and 2018 Olympic team bronze with her husband, Chris, while Frazier captured the 2017 U.S. crown with Haven Denney.
Together, Knierim and Frazier hold the 2021 U.S. title as well as a 2022 Olympic team silver medal. In March, they became the first U.S. pair since Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner in 1979 to win the world title.
"I think we put immense amounts of pressure on ourselves already,” Knierim said. “It feels like after becoming a world champion there is a broader spectrum of pressure, but when I take the ice, I feel the same and that’s pressure for myself and our team to be our best."
The duo produced a sensitive program to a medley including Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times,” highlighted by two strong throw triple jumps and intricate choreography. The difference maker between gold and silver was likely two shaky jump landings by Frazier, on the side-by-side triple toe loop-double toe combinations and triple salchows.
“It was a tight competition, but that’s what makes sports exciting,” Frazier said.
Additionally, Team USA qualified a second pair for the Final for the first time in Grand Prix history. Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe, winners of two silver medals on the Grand Prix circuit this fall, placed sixth in Torino with 162.91 points.