U.S. pairs figure skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim took the ice on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 15 in South Korea), but they had something else on their minds.
After their free skate, the husband and wife shared that they were skating in memory of the 17 people killed in a school shooting on Feb. 14 when a man opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The Knierims followed up a disappointing short program with a free skate that couldn’t bump them into medal contention, but for Scimeca Knierim, their skate was bigger than just a score.
“We wanted to skate for the 17 children that died in the Florida shooting, and today was much more than about us,” Scimeca Knierim said. “We wanted a tribute to the U.S. for their loss. Unfortunately, we had a lot of mistakes, but I think our motivation was to skate for those was were lost.”
As the only pairs figure skating couple representing the U.S. this year, the Knierims earned 185.82 points overall, putting them in 15th. Scimeca Knierim mentioned fighting a stomach bug the evening before and the morning of her free skate but didn’t attribute anything specific to their final results. She noted that the bug was unrelated to her previous stomach and abdominal issues.
Without the pressure of racking up points to land on the medal podium, the figure skating exhibition gala is a chance for the athletes to express themselves. There aren’t rules about jumping sequences, and instead, skaters can use props and silly concepts, if they want.
Figure skaters who win medals at the Olympics are typically among the invite list, plus up-and-coming skaters from the host country and other fan favorites.
Here are some of the best performances of the evening:
Ice dance bronze medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani reprised last season’s “That’s Life” short dance by Frank Sinatra featuring Jay-Z for this year’s exhibition.
Ladies’ gold medalist Alina Zagitova performed her “Priestess of Fire” exhibition, which included a fake candle prop glowing on the ice.
Watch performances from the figure skating gala by clicking here
Two-man? Check. Four-man? Double check. Francesco Friedrich piloted his German sled to gold in the four-man bobsled, becoming the sixth pilot to win gold in both the two- and four-man bobsled in the same Olympics on the final day of competition in PyeongChang.
After tying with Canada’s Justin Kripps in two-man, Friedrich made no doubt in four-man, sliding to a dominant win. The German sled was clear of second by 0.53 seconds. And in second? Another tie on the bobsled course — just like the tie for gold in two-man. South Korea and Germany shared the silver medal.
NBCOlympics.com: Remembering team USA bobsled star Steve Holcomb
South Korea’s medal was historic. Won Yun-Jong delivered for the home nation, bringing the country its first medal in the bobsled. Yun Sung-Bin won the country’s first medal in a sliding event by taking gold in skeleton earlier in the games. Germany’s Nico Walther piloted the sled that tied.
Codie Bascue piloted the top American sled to a ninth-place finish. Nick Cunningham and Justin Olsen improved in Runs 3 and 4 to finish 19th and 20th, respectively.
Gold: Germany (Friedrich sled)
Silver: South Korea (Won sled)
Silver: Germany (Walther sled)
Read the full recap and watch bobsled highlights by clicking here