POWER PAIR: THE KNIERIMS
Olympic medalists Alexa and Chris found chemistry on—and then off—the ice.
The athletes started dating one month after teaming up in 2012, then married in 2016. Furthermore caught up with the Knierims ahead of the US Figure Skating Championships in Detroit last month to talk workouts, their opposing stances on carbs, and the secret to staying both petite and strong.
Your former coach introduced you to each other. Was there a spark right away?
Chris: Definitely. In any tryout, there are always things you have to work through in terms of matching your techniques so you can mold them together. The week we tried out, it just looked and felt like we were going to be a good match.
You took your relationship off the ice soon after that.
Alexa: I felt more excitement and a different energy skating with Chris than I did with previous partners. We were aware that something was stirring up inside, an attraction. There’s that honeymoon stage when skaters first pair up, but for us, it lingered. We wanted to spend all our time together. It felt very natural.
Your current coaches, Todd Sand and Jenni Meno, were also married skating partners.
Alexa: That’s right. It’s one reason we were drawn to them. They understand the dynamic of skating with your spouse.
Have they given you good advice on merging your professional and romantic partnerships?
Chris: They’ve both been through it. Alexa can vent to Jenni and I can turn to Todd. They give us unique insight into what they’re seeing and what’s worked for them, making arguments and other problems disappear more quickly.
How does your work relationship compare to your personal one?
The upside is that when you have to travel, you don’t leave your loved one behind like other athletes do.
What about when you train off the ice—are you together then, too?
Alexa: It’ll be burpees, ladder drills, planks, Romanian deadlifts, sprints, kettlebell swings, and more. We go through it a few times and try to hit our max at each station.
But lifting and landing require distinct skillsets.
You guys are strong, but also petite.
Chris: I try not to bulk up. I don’t want to put weight on my upper body as it will affect how I rotate.
How does your training change ahead of big competitions?
Alexa: Yeah, we also cut back on off-ice lifts because we’ve fine-tuned them. We’ll do an hour of jogging, stretching, and core work like seated twists, planks, and V-sits before our skate sessions.
How do you fuel for performance?
Alexa: I’m pretty strict and consistent. I don’t eat many carbs apart from oatmeal at breakfast. I fill up on greens and lean protein and between sessions, I’ll have an Rx bar. Sometimes when we cook together, Chris will add pasta or rice and I’ll pass on those.
That all sounds very balanced.
Alexa: I won't waste calories on pasta or sandwiches, but I have a sweet tooth so I won’t deprive myself of a cookie or chocolate if I want it.