Ramona native Chris Knierium and wife compete in Winter Olympics figure skating

Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim (Getty Images)

RAMONA, Calif. — Chris Knierim, who was raised in Ramona, and his wife, Alexa Scimeca-Knierim, will skate in the pairs short program of the figure skating team event Thursday at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The couple was selected as the only pairs team to represent the U.S. at the Pyeongchang Games after having the highest U.S. finish at each of their international assignments since their return to competition at the 2017 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships last February at Gangneung Ice Arena, the venue where they will be competing at Thursday evening.

They also won their second national championship in January.

The U.S. was allowed to enter only one pairs team in the Pyeongchang Olympics because of results in the 2017 World Championships.

They are the only married couple on the U.S. Olympic team and the first since 2006.

The duo missed the 2016-17 season due to Scimeca-Knierim suffering from a serious gastrointestinal condition that required three stomach surgeries. They are both first-time Olympians.

Knierim, 30, began skating when he was 12 years old. He moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2006 to train. He had skated with four other partners before beginning his partnership with Scimeca-Knierim, who was raised in Addison, Illinois, in 2012.

The couple became engaged in 2014, won their first national championship in 2015, and married in 2016.

In the team event, each of the 10 teams consist of one woman, one man, one pairs team and one ice dance team. All the skaters have qualified for the Olympics in their individual disciplines. Each nation will be allowed to make up to two exchanges after the short program/dance.

Skaters receive points based on their finishes in each segment of competition. The five teams with the highest number of points after the short program/dance will qualify for the free skate/dance.

The U.S. won the bronze medal in 2014, the first time the team event was held in the Olympics.