GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - There will be no big Valentine’s Day celebration for one husband and wife figure skating pair, who are choosing rest and relaxation over champagne and roses on Wednesday as another day of competition looms.
The duo in question are 26-year-old Alexa Scimeca Knierim and her 30-year-old husband Chris Knierim, two-time U.S. pairs champions making their Olympic debut, who started skating together in 2012 and were married four years later.
The two embraced and kissed after finishing their short programme on Wednesday, with Chris gently running a hand over his wife’s hair.
“It’s Valentine’s Day and I think we showed how much we love each other and love to skate with each other during the programme,” Chris told reporters after the pair finished 14th to just about qualify for the free skate.
Just two years ago, Alexa developed a rare gastrointestinal illness that saw her weight plummet to 36 kg (80 lb) before several abdominal surgeries solved the life-threatening issue.
Her absence took months off their training schedule as she was forced to learn the basic skating moves from scratch until her strength returned.
“It makes this journey so much different and possibly more special than anyone who hasn’t experienced the super lows of life,” Alexa said.
“We’re just feeding off each other and reminding each other how lucky we are to be here. It’s keeping us humble and happy.”
The two helped the U.S. figure skating team win bronze in the team competition earlier this week but struggled on Wednesday after she touched the ice with her hand in a throw triple flip.
Asked how they planned to celebrate making it into the top-16 pairs advancing to Thursday’s free skate, they both said they would rest.
“We have another programme tomorrow and that will be the last of our Olympic journey,” Chris said. “So we’re just going to rest, recover and get ready for tomorrow morning.”
Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by John O'Brien