By Annika Tomlin | May 9, 2022
Figure skater Alexa Knierim treasures her time on the U.S. Olympic team. After all, it took a lifetime of hard work and dedication.
“I think for both Brandon and I it is an honor and a privilege to be part of the Olympic team,” she says referring to her Phoenix-born partner, Brandon Frazier. “We know how few people have this opportunity. We know that we’re a community of Olympians that is small and rare.”
Knierim and Frazier will be among the cast of “Stars on Ice” when it skates into Gila River Arena on Friday, May 20.
Founded in 1986 by skating icon Scott Hamilton, “Stars on Ice” offers fans an up-close look at the sports’ superstars, performing solo and ensemble routines.
The cast includes 2022 Olympic gold and silver medalist and reigning U.S. champion Nathan Chen, along with Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. Additional skaters are expected to be announced soon.
Frazier says it was challenging to make the Olympic team.
“It was a lot of contributing factors to actually be named to the Olympic team because the Olympics come every four years,” Frazier says.
“The timing — on top of having to do everything mentally and physically — has to be right, too. It’s a lifelong journey to be named to that team.”
Frazier says the 2022 Winter Olympics — his first foray at the games — were exciting even before he and Knierim hit the ice.
“It was just a moment where all of your hard work and dedication pays off,” he says.
“She and I worked so hard and in all the right ways. We never took our foot off the gas. You have that moment of realization that everything that you did has led you here and now you can enjoy it.”
Knierim explains they started the Olympics “with a bang” and were proud of their finish. They received their personal best score first at the short program team event (75.00 points) then surpassed it at the free skate pair event (138.45 points) toward the end of the Olympics. Not to mention, they achieved their best total score (212.68 points) following their final pair event. They achieved the highest scores by a U.S. pair under the international judging system.
“It’s always a dream to get to skate very well at the Olympics,” she says.
“When you are actually able to get to do that, it sits a little bit differently than any other competition.”
The duo’s performances for pairs and individuals were two weeks apart. It was challenging to keep up their A games.
“You’re trying to sustain your peak for multiple beats and that’s not normal,” Frazier admits. “You are really only doing that for a few days at all of the other events.
“Then entering the final few days of our short program and the individual, you really felt the longevity of the Olympics kicking in. It took a lot of mental toughness to stay exactly where you need to be mentally to get back out there.”
Winning a silver medal in the figure skating team event “was a surreal dream” to Knierim who previously won a bronze medal with her former skating partner and husband, Chris Knierim.
“It obviously means a lot when you can medal at any event, but to share that platform with some of our best teammates and really good friends was a memorable moment for us,” Knierim says.
The duo will perform twice during the “Stars on Ice” U.S. tour. Preparing for them was completely different than readying for the Olympics, Frazier says.
“We just prepare our show numbers and it’s actually nice,” he says. “It’s just a whole different process where you get to put in what you want.
“You don’t really have to worry about rules or required technical elements. It’s a lot more fun and laid back when you get to put together these programs versus putting together your competition programs.”
Knierim adds, “I think that we are looking forward to reaching a live audience in 24 different cities and allowing the different communities and families to see skating live again.
“Because of the pandemic, there have been a lot of missed opportunities. Sharing that passion on the ice with the cast and the audience will be probably something we are most excited about,” she says.
Frazier says it means a lot to perform in a hometown show, as he lived in Sun City prior to moving to Colorado Springs.
“It’s going to be so sentimental to me to perform a show that I’ve always dreamed about being a part of, within a state and city that I was born in,” Frazier says. “I still have a lot of family in Arizona, and I know that they are already planning and excited to attend.
“It’s going to be all the better to experience that and I’m looking forward to performing in front of my family.”
“Stars on Ice”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 20
WHERE: Gila River Arena, 9400 W. Maryland Avenue, Glendale
COST: Tickets start at $12.50