Sports Olympics

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Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim keep U.S. medal hopes alive after shaky performance by Nathan Chen

Nathan Chen during the figure skating team event. (Harry How)
Nathan Chen during the figure skating team event. (Harry How)

U.S. men’s figure skating champion Nathan Chen looked nothing like the jump master he became while enjoying an undefeated season, surprisingly falling twice during his short program Friday morning in the first phase of the Olympic team event.

Conversely, the American husband-and-wife duo of Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim, known for performing beautiful twists and lifts but struggling with side-by-side jumps, were nearly flawless in their short program and sealed it with a kiss at center ice at Gangneung Ice Arena.

Whether it was the earliness of the hour—the event started shortly after 10 a.m. local time—or the pressure of performing at the Olympics hitting home, a startling number of skaters stumbled through the first day of the team competition.

Canada took the lead with 17 points, followed by the U.S. at 14 and a tie between Japan and the Olympic Athletes of Russia at 13 each. Israel, riding a stunning performance by Alexei Bychenko, was fourth with 11 points. A first-place finish is worth 10 points, second is worth nine points and so on down to 10th place earning one standings point.

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