Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier haven’t decided yet if they will compete beyond this season, so Saturday could have been their farewell to the US Figure Skating Championships.
If so, they walked out as dominant winners, the first couple in their 30s to win national teams in over 50 years.
Knierim, 31, and Frazier, 30, captured their second joint US title with a total of 227.97 points and came out on top with 31.11 points Emily Chan and Spencer Howe. They led after Thursday’s deficit by a gaping 15.1 points.
Knierim and Frazier were solid after errors in their opening jump combination in Saturday’s freestyle. They broke their own pairs’ winning record from the 2021 US Championships under a points system introduced in 2006. Knierim seemed to wipe away the tears backstage.
“The older I get, the longer I’ve been in this sport, the more grateful I feel for it,” said Knierim, the oldest woman to win a US figure skating title since 1995 (Renee Roca), said on USA Network. “Now that this music has ended, I’m just grateful that Brandon is by my side and I can do what I love.”
EllieCam and Danny O’Shea Bringing bronze to round out the team of three for the Worlds in March.
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Knierim and Frazier considered retiring after last season after missing the national team due to Frazier’s COVID-19, petitioning the Olympic team and the best Olympic result for a US pair (sixth) in 20 years had achieved.
They then became the first US pair to win a world title since 1979, beating a field that did not include any of the Olympics’ top five.
They returned in part to compete as world champions and rank second in the world that season (which also saw the Olympic top couples not compete). They will likely go into the March Worlds in Japan as the underdogs of the Japanese Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kiharawho won their lonely head-to-head race at the Grand Prix final last fall.
Back in October, Knierim said this will likely be their last season together, although the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision before a Stars on Ice tour this spring.
“This US championship was very special for us because you just think about the trip and know that this will probably be the last,” said Frazier.
Knierim won her fifth US title, tying the record for a pair skater since World War II Kyoka Ina, This is Babylonia, Randy Gardner, Karl Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles and her first 2018 Olympics were with her husband Chriswho retired in 2020.
Silver medalists Chan and Howe continued their recent rise. They are sixth in the world rankings this season after finishing fourth at last season’s national championships. And that’s despite summer injuries that made it impossible for them to practice lifts (his shoulder) and throws (her foot) for a while.
Kam, 18, and O’Shea, 31, took the podium four months after they became a couple and less than two months after a car Kim was driving was hit by a drunk driver while crossing an intersection . The car was totaled but Kim and O’Shea were still competing in Croatia days later.
O’Shea won the US title in 2016 Tara KayneShe retired after the breakup in late 2020, then came back with them in 2021 Chelsea Liu. They finished sixth in the US ahead of the 2022 Nationals but retired before that due to concussions they both suffered in a competitive fall in November, according to Figure Skaters Online.
NBC sports Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.
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