Sports

U.S. Skaters Saw Florida Shooting Before Routine, Dedicate Program to Victims

News of the Stoneman Douglas shooting played in the warm-up room before their run, and Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim wanted to honor the 17 victims.
February 15, 2018, 4:11pm
Photo by Robert Deutsch—USA TODAY Sports

In the warmup room for pairs figure skating last night in PyeongChang, CNN International was reporting on Nikolas Cruz's horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida that took the lives of 17 people yesterday. U.S. Olympians Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim—the first married American pair since 1988—looked on, and decided to dedicate their Olympic performance to the 17 victims, according to Yahoo Sports.

The Knierims weren't projected to place, and had a routine that was marked by several glaring errors in the free skate. But that wasn't really the focus of the evening. From Yahoo:

“We are so privileged and lucky to be doing what we are doing and it is so sad that 17 people died from the United States,” Alexa said after, through a cracked voice as tears streamed down her face. “I told Chris, ‘The world is so much bigger than us.’ ”

The news, they said, didn’t affect their performance. They blocked it out despite the heavy heart and the shock of the moment. This, they wanted to make clear, was not about them. It was about the victims. It was about the country they were here to represent.

Two days ago, the couple managed to walk away with the bronze in the team event. But for a couple who has had a fortuitous run at the Olympics—despite Alexa being involved in a nearly fatal gastrointestinal problem that caused rapid and significant weight loss 15 months before the games—there were bigger, more important themes to the day.

From Yahoo Sports:

“I think I kind of put pressure on myself today because I wanted to honor those who were lost and skate well for them and have somewhat of a happy moment for our country.

“I wanted to lift the spirits of those who are probably mourning.”