Pairs skater Scimeca gets (sore) foot in worlds door

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim at practice Monday.  (Mark Blinch / Reuters)

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim at practice Monday. (Mark Blinch / Reuters / March 12, 2013)

LONDON, Ont. -- By the time Alexa Scimeca of Addison and her pairs partner, Chris Knierem of San Diego, withdrew from last month's Four Continents Championship after traveling all the way to Osaka, Japan, just about everything that could be wrong with her right foot was.

Except, fortunately, a stress fracture.

So she and Knierim were able to capitalize on an opening created by another U.S. skater's physical problems and compete at the World Championships, which open with the pairs short program Wednesday morning.

Scimeca, a graduate of Addison Trail High School, said she has cuboid sydrome, a bruise on her heel and tendinitis throughout the foot.

She took a week off after returning from Japan and then began twice-a-day physical therapy, which is continuing while she is here.  That and the occasional mega dose of anti-inflammatories have her ready to do the programs with no changes because of the injury.

After finishing second at January's U.S. Championships, Scimeca and Knierim expected to be bumped for the team of Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, the 2012 national champions. Denney and Coughlin had not competed at nationals after he had hip surgery in December, but he felt there would be enough time to get healthy for worlds.

A couple weeks later, Coughlin went to Plan B, choosing not to rush back for worlds with the Olympic year on the horizon.

So Scimeca and and Knierim, a pair for 11 months who train in Colorado Springs, found themselves with a berth at worlds.

And their reaction was?

"Excitement," Knierim said.

"Relief," added Scimeca.

"Opportunity," he concluded.

"Our main goal in our skating careers since we were kids was, `Let's go to worlds and Olympics,''' Scimeca said. "We have cleared one."

Scimeca-Knierim and reigning U,S. champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, third at Four Continents, both are making their world meet debuts.  Their finishes must add up to 28 or less to assure the U.S. of having two entries at the 2014 Olympics.

Given that there are only 18 pairs teams at worlds, it would take a complete implosion for the U.S. teams to do that poorly.

"To be here is unreal, but we still feel we belong," Scimeca said.

 

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