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Arizona native, wife make history in Olympics skating competition

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim of the United States perform in the team event pair skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

PHOENIX — When this Arizona native and his wife hit the ice to compete in the Olympics this week, a gold medal was not the only thing they were vying for.

That’s because whether 30-year-old Chris Knierim and 26-year-old Alexa Scimeca Knierim would have placed, they would have still made history.

According to Yahoo, Chris, who was born in Tucson, and Alexa are reportedly the first married couple to compete in pairs skating for the United States in the Olympics since 1988.

The duo’s performance on Tuesday landed them 65.55 points to put them in fifth place.

The couple has already taken home a bronze metal in Monday’s team skate.

Skating partners turned husband and wife

The couple have only been married for less than two years, but they first came in contact in 2010, while they were each competing at a sectional event in Kansas.

Two years later, both Chris and Alexa were searching for a pairs partner when skating coach Dalilah Sappenfield thought they might work well together.

So Alexa, a Chicago-area native who had been living in Connecticut, flew out to visit Chris in California — and the rest, they say, was history.

But their relationship has not always been easy: Chris broke a tibia about four years ago, forcing the couple to be alternates for the Sochi Olympics.

Then the couple took home a national title the next year, before facing another set back the year after when Alexa suffered from a rare and potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal condition.

“Nobody truly knows, other than he and I, how deep it’s been in terms of the sorrow and pain,” Alexa told Yahoo. “When I was holding my medal [Monday], he said, ‘All of that pain, all of the episodes were worth it.’ ”

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