Chris and Alexa Knierim, America’s premiere U.S. Olympic figure skating pair, are competing in the Olympics this year despite a major health scare, and the happily married couple credit one thing for their unlikely return to the ice: God.
The couple first met when Chris Knierim picked Alexa up from the airport for a figure skating tryout in 2012. They said they felt an immediate connection. They went on to win their first US pairs title in 2015, and get married the following year.
By all measures, their lives were perfect. Then, Alexa was tragically struck with “indescribable” stomach pain so insufferable, it brought her to tears. She was soon diagnosed with a rare gastrointestinal condition that required three surgeries to cure.
She said she was so weak following her surgery, she could not even walk. Eventually, after several months of rest and rehabilitation, she was able to return to the ice.
It was not an easy transition, however. She had to rely on her husband to help her through the tribulation.
“I just had to relearn everything on the ice,” Alexa said. “The very first time I stepped back onto the ice after my surgeries, Chris had to hold me up because I was not capable of standing on my own because of how fragile and weak my body was”
Following their free skate at the Olympics, the couple discussed the role their faith played in returning to the ice.
“In the moment, you know, I was so sick and didn’t really know where things were going to go for me, whether it was skating or life in general. So I finally just threw my hands up and said like, ‘You lead the way [God],’ and it’s my testimony and I stay true to it” Alexa said in an interview with People magazine.
“It’s no longer about me,” she added. “I have fans out there who know that I am a true believer in the Lord and I’m trying my best to shine his light and let people know that it’s okay to promote him and do things for him, because in the Christian life that’s kind of what we’re supposed to.”
The couple pray before competitions and spend a lot of time with fellow Christian athletes in Colorado.
While Chris and Alexa ultimately finished fourth in this year’s competition, they could not care less. Being able to get out there and compete once again is the greatest triumph of all.