The Knierims executed a nearly flawless short program that helped the US team land in second place after an unexpected disastrous short program from Nathan Chen, the US top men’s singles skater. Chen uncharacteristically fell on the ice after falling on a triple Axel in the back half of his program.
“I’m really upset that I let the team down with that short program,” Chen said. “Definitely not what I wanted to put out.”
The Knierims were nearly flawless, cleanly landing all their elements, including a side-by-side triple Salchows that’s plagued them since they returned to competition. The only flaw was a near tumble onto the boards from Alexa after all the hard elements were done.
Chen’s miscue on the ice placed the US in fourth place with more teams with strong skaters still to go. The Knierims’ clean program pushed the team to second place after the first of three days of the team competition, which includes short and free programs in singles, pairs and dance. Only the top five teams will get to compete in free skate.
The pair scored 69.75 points for their short program, beating their previous season’s best by nearly 4 points.
Skating cleanly at the Olympics means that “everything we went through was so worth it to keep pushing forward and chasing our dreams because it’s moments like that that we just look at each other and we’re just filled with so much joy and love,” Alexa said.
As the only pairs skaters on the US team, the Knierims will skate in a total of four programs, but the workload doesn’t phase Chis. He said they have a strategic game plan worked out.
“We’re at the Olympic games, we’ll skate six programs if we have to, it’s no big deal.” Chris said. “We’ll be OK. We planned it all out.”
In the team event, each of the 10 teams consists of one woman, one man, one pairs team and one ice dance team. All the skaters have qualified for the Olympics in their individual disciplines.
Skaters receive points based on their finishes in each segment of the competition. The five teams with the highest number of points after the short program/dance will qualify for the free skate/dance.
The U.S. won the bronze medal in 2014, the first time the team event was held in the Olympics.
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