Knierim and Frazier win pairs gold at U.S. National Skating Championships
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Long on the way to the top step of the podium, Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier won another national pairs gold medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday night with a spectacular free skate that earned them a season-best 227.97.
The reigning world champions were forced to withdraw the day before last year’s national championships when Frazier contracted COVID-19, denying them a chance to defend their 2021 title in their first season together.
Skating second to last and ahead of eventual silver medalists Emily Chan and Spencer Howe, Knierim and Frazier performed a stunning routine on Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” for a 146.01 to win by over 30 points. They recovered from a slight error in their planned triple toeloop-double toeloop-double toeloop combination by going the rest of the way and executing all the difficult elements with flair and determination.
When they were done, fans jumped to their feet in a rousing ovation.
The pair, who train in Southern California and paired off after Knierim’s husband Chris retired from skating in 2020, had to apply for a spot on the Beijing Olympic team after missed the 2022 nationals. There they helped the Americans win a silver medal in the team event and placed sixth in pairs. The duo also won silver in the Grand Prix Final last month.
Knierim and Frazier held a sizable lead of more than 15 points over Chan and Howe — 81.96 to 66.86 — after a personal best short program Thursday before Saturday’s free skate.
Chan and Howe continued their breakout season with a season-best score of 196.86 and their free skate of 130.00, to a rendition of “Unchained Melody”. They lost points when Chan fell on their thrown triple loop.
Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea placed third at 184.01. They came in third on Saturday after scoring a short program of 65.75, then Kam fell on their opening triple twist in the free skate and nearly slipped into the boards. The two teamed up just four months ago and have high hopes of an Olympic run.
Sonia Baram and Daniel Tioumentsev finished fourth at 179.08, scoring a 115.96 in the free skate to move up from fifth place after the short program with a great routine on Saturday at the SAP Center.
Earlier Saturday, Madison Chock and Evan Bates defended their ice dance titles Saturday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, scoring 137.85 in the free dance for a total score of 229.75.
The recently engaged couple have won national championship medals every season since 2013. That’s 11 straight years, matching former training mates Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (2012-22) for the most consecutive years on the American ice dance podium.
“It’s a great honor to be one of the longest-lived teams in the sport,” Chock said. “It’s something we’re really proud of because we’re very motivated people. It’s something that has guided us throughout our careers, and we’ve had great success because of it.
AP freelance writer Sonja Chen contributed to this report.
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