Summer 2024

Bronze medal-winning American skaters say faith helped them through health scare

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim are living their dream competing at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

But just after marrying in 2016, they were living a nightmare as Alexa had been diagnosed with a rare and potentially deadly gastrointestinal condition. Doctors said it was serious and she was to have surgery immediately on her abdomen. Following that surgery, she would need two additional procedures. The health scare left the couple scared and shocked.

“I spent like so many days in bed, because I was too weak to stand up,” she told NBC.


“I can lift her, throw her, catch her, but there was nothing I could do to help her, even though that’s all I wanted to do,” Chris tearfully told NBC.

Both Alexa and Chris said that as difficult as the ordeal was, it was their faith in Christ that helped them get through it and as Alexa recovered.

“It’s the reason I was able to get back on the ice, because I stopped worrying and stopped trying to control life, because I couldn’t,” Alexa told People. “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,’ and it’s my testimony and I stay true to it.”

Following the surgery, Alexa was able to make it back to the ice in late 2016 and the husband-and-wife duo competed to the point where they won the 2018 U.S. Championships, their second national title, placing first in the short program, first in the free skate, and performing a quadruple twist in competition for the first time since 2016. Following the event, the Knierims were named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, the sole U.S. pair team at this Olympic Games.

On Monday, the couple won a bronze medal as part of the Figure Skating Team Event.

Winning a bronze medal is an incredible accomplishment, but even if the victory didn’t come, the Knierims say they understand what a blessing it is just to be performing on this Olympic stage for the first time after what they went through less than two years ago.

“And even here at the Games, it’s no longer about me,” she told People. “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.”

“Coming here, you know, this is the cherry on top,” Chris said last week after competing in the pairs’ short program. “We’ve had a tough couple of years, and this is just something really special.”

Related links:
– Christian Olympians to watch at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games
– American Chris Corning among Olympic medal contenders in slopestyle, big air snowboarding
– NEW PODCAST: Gigi Marvin, USA Women’s Hockey Team