Three questions with Alexa Scimeca Knierm, Chris Knierim before U.S. Championships

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Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim have had a rocky season, to say the least. The married couple split from the coach that paired them up at the end of last season and packed up to move to Oberstdorf, Germany to train under pairs’ gold medalist Aliona Savchenko. The Knierims split with Savchenko later in the fall and moved to California and now train with coaches Jenni Meno and Todd Sand.

Amid all this, they competed and won a silver medal at Nebelhorn Trophy, placed fourth at Skate America and won a bronze at NHK Trophy in Japan. Most recently, they captured another silver at Golden Spin in December.

Or as Knierim put it, “traveling all around God’s green earth, it seems like this season.”

The 2015 and 2018 national champions spoke to reporters ahead of the U.S. championships in Detroit next weekend, adding that they’ve been training well every day leading to Nationals. They’re happy with their current situation, Knierim said.

Here’s what we learned.

1. They still believe their time in Oberstdorf was valuable, despite how it ended.

Alexa Scimeca Knierim: “There’s certain things that we learned [in Germany] that we’re going to continue to incorporate on a daily basis. It’s quite simple. It just didn’t work out. Chris and I knew when we decided to part ways that there would be no regrets leaving there because we took everything we could. We just felt like if we had stayed, there would’ve been more of a downward slope in some terms of things than others. We kind of felt like we needed to save ourselves in the moment which is why we made the switch [to Jenni and Todd] so quickly.”

2. Their new coaches, who competed as a married couple in pairs’ skating themselves, offer a fresh perspective for the Knierims.

Chris Knierim: “One thing that we really liked about Jenni and Todd is that they’ve been through everything we’re going through and have been through together. They were married. They were skating and competing while they were married. It’s a really good balance between the two of them because they get everything that’s happening.”

ASK: “Jenni and I are very similar and Todd and Chris are very similar. On the training day to day when they are both present at practice, it’s very helpful for us. After an element, if we need to dissect or break something down, or if there’s maybe some tension or emotions building, I can take my two cents and talk to Jenni and Chris can take a lap with Todd. They give us insight or opinions on what to do. In the past we’ve only had one person standing at the boards and seems a little bit more refreshing and a little bit more productive.”

3. Their pets and belongings are with Scimeca Knierim’s parents in Chicago. Eventually, they couple will get their own place in California, they hope.

All of the couple’s belongings are packed in bins in Alexa’s parents garage, as well as the cars and Chris’ beloved Camaro. Her parents already had a big dog plus five cats, and the pair left their two “giant” dogs and two more cats in Chicago.

CK: “Going into us they told us, don’t worry about it. We’re gonna watch them. Just do what you need to do in Germany or wherever you’re going. We’ll take care of it.”

ASK: “My parents are animal lovers, so it’s not a big deal to them. My parents have already said they don’t want to give them back. But we’ll be taking them back!”

CK: “Since we left Dalilah [Sappenfield], we haven’t had our own place. It’s been almost a year now that we haven’t had our own place being a married couple. It’s been a crazy season for us on and off the ice. But we knew going into this season that this was a building year for us to make a good chance and get everything lined out for the next three years leading into the Olympic Games. It’s been a hard road and it’s been up and down. We’ve traveled to Germany and been all over the country, but we’re just happy that now everything is settling down. Hopefully within the next month or two we’ll be able to get our own place in California and be with our pets. Everything will just be normal. We’re happy to get to that point, to be honest.”

MORE: Three questions with Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue before U.S. Championships

As a reminder, you can watch the U.S. Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before. 

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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