Getty Images/Richard Heathcote
Whatever you’ve got planned for Valentine’s Day, American figure skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim and her husband Chris Knierim, have you beat.
The pair, who began skating together in 2012 and were married by their coach in a skating-themed wedding four years later, bring a story of redemption and reclamation to the 2018 games.
While their storybook romance might suggest that the two merely continued their skating career without interruption or difficulty after getting married, that’s far from the truth. In 2016, Alexa was diagnosed with a rare and potentially fatal gastrointestinal illness. She lost a significant amount of weight, dropping down to 80 pounds. The illness left Chris in the rare position of feeling helpless and powerless.
“I can lift her, throw her, catch her. But there was nothing that I could do to help her, even though that’s all I wanted to do,” Chris told NBC in an emotional interview.
You can tell they are a couple pic.twitter.com/yRAC5496eg
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) February 9, 2018
Though Alexa’s health eventually returned, the pair missed eight months of training time while she fought the illness. However, despite the lost training time, the pair came back with a vengeance. The Knierim’s won the US International Classic in September, and won a bronze medal on Sunday.
However, with the couple’s unique backstory and the fact that they are, a couple, their Valentine’s Day competition promises to be something special.
“It is going to be a special Valentine’s Day,” Chris told USA Today Sports in January. “One we might never have again.”
As far as what kind of edge being a real-life couple gives the pair, Chris thinks it’s a significant advantage.
“I think it shows while we are skating more than ever how much we love each other,” Chris told USA Today. “Not all the teams have the connection. It’s natural for us so it’s nice we don’t have to work on it.”
Alexa told NBC, “It’s our sole purpose to create a [love] story when we’re on the ice. Chris and I are just fortunate that we’re not acting when we’re out there. It’s true love for us.”