(L-R) Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier react at the kiss and cry in the pairs free skate at the 2022 ISU Grand Prix on Nov. 12, 2022 in Sheffield, England.
U.S. 2022 Olympic pair skaters Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier won a gold medal at the MK John Wilson Trophy in Sheffield, Great Britain, on Saturday, overpowering the field by more than 20 points.
It was the second victory of the ISU Grand Prix season for the Olympic team silver medalists and 2022 world pair champions, who also won at the season-opening Skate America last month in Massachusetts.
“When we finished Skate America, we were very eager and motivated to work even harder,” Knierim, 31, said. “We weren’t comfortable and ready at Skate America. We felt we made a lot of progress when we arrived here. … Our mental game and confidence (have) grown and become stronger since Skate America.”
When Knierim and Frazier won the world title last season, it was the first time since Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner in 1979 that a U.S. pair stood atop the world podium. With this victory, they make more history, becoming the first U.S. pair to win two Grand Prix events in the same season.
More history could be in the offing. The two Grand Prix titles qualified Knierim and Frazier for the Grand Prix Final, to be held in Turin, Italy, Dec. 8-11. It is the first time since 2015 that a U.S. pair has qualified. No U.S. pair has ever medaled at the event.
Knierim and Frazier built a seven-point lead with a strong short program Friday. Their free skate, set to Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times,” was imperfect — Knierim had glitches on the landings of both of the pair’s triple jumps — but other elements, including a triple twist and two throw triple jumps, were solid. Their 205.85 total was well off their personal best 221.09, set at the 2022 world championships.
Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii of Italy finished runner-up to Knierim and Frazier with a score of 184.19, while Letizia Roscher and Luis Schuster of Germany placed third with 167.37. U.S. skaters Katie McBeath and Nathan Bartholomay, who train alongside Knierim and Frazier in Irvine, California, were sixth with 147.29.
Jimmy Ma was the top-finishing American in the men’s competition, placing seventh.