Faith brought Olympic figure skater Alexa Scimeca Knierim 'back on the ice'

A husband and wife figure skating pair have chosen to rest and relax over champagne and roses on Valentine's Day after qualifying for the main event on Wednesday.

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. Wednesday, they could skate together, consumed by a program soaked with meaning, set - deliberately - to "Come What May" from "Moulin Rouge". And they are so looking forward to it particularly because they are the only married figure skating pair at these Winter Games.

Alexa, 26, underwent several abdominal surgeries, at one point dropping to 80 pounds, before resuming training with Chris, 30, early past year.

"I think what a lot of people have a hard time grasping is this journey is really between Chris and I", Scimeca-Knierim said. "We may be living in a different world over here with the Olympic hype, but we're hurting for them".

But at least they executed a clean quad twist, where Alexa completes four horizontal revolutions high above the ice before Chris catches her.

They did not do one in their short program, which included a triple twist - one Scimeca-Knierim over-rotated, an unusual problem considering many skaters are more prone to under-rotate a challenging move like that. The favorites, for example, are German pair Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot.

White also joins fellow American Kelly Clark (who won a gold and two bronzes) on top of the overall medal tally for the sport. China's Weinjing Sui and Con Hang took the No. 1 score (82.39) of the night, barely edging out Russian athletes Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (81.68). Their highlight came in the short program of the three-day event, when they skated next after gold-medal favorite Nathan Chen had bombed but propped up USA medal hopes with an inspired performance.

Thursday's competition included the North Korean pair of Ryom Tae Ok, 19, and Kim Ju Sik, 25, about whom little is known internationally.

The Knierims will not approach that fourth-place finish.

Vanessa Coleman

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