World champs Knierim, Frazier dazzle in Day 1 at nationals

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — They held their on-ice embrace a for a number of further moments this time, kneeling in an finish pose moments after a near-flawless quick program.

Overwhelming favourite and reigning world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier scored a personal-best of 81.96 on Thursday for a commanding lead within the first day of the U.S. Determine Skating Championships.

The pair took the ice in glowing silver costumes for his or her much-anticipated nationals return after lacking the occasion a yr in the past when Frazier examined constructive for COVID-19. This time, they delivered an awe-inspiring routine to Journey’s “Separate Methods (Worlds Aside)” from Stranger Issues.

Their rating Thursday was three factors greater than they’d achieved earlier than and likewise lower than three factors shy of the world-record 84.41 set by Sui Wenjing and Han Cong eventually yr’s Beijing Olympics.

Knierim and Frazier led second-place tandem Emily Chan and Spencer Howe by greater than 15 factors after the quick program with the pairs free skate set for Saturday at SAP Middle.

Knierim and Frazier by no means bought an opportunity to defend their nationwide title a yr in the past on the occasion in Nashville, Tennessee, after Frazier’s constructive take a look at the night time earlier than competitors started pressured the pair to withdraw. They then needed to petition for a spot on the Olympic group for Beijing.

There, the duo helped the Individuals seize a silver medal within the group occasion and positioned sixth in pairs. The twosome additionally earned silver within the Grand Prix closing final month.

Chan and Howe are anticipated to be the next-best pair in San Jose behind Knierim and Frazier, who partnered after Knierim’s husband, Chris, retired from skating in 2020.

Whereas Chan fell on their side-by-side triple toeloops at SAP Middle, the diploma of issue with the technical content material of their routine earned them the next rating from the judges for a 66.86 — lower than level off their worldwide personal-best earned at Skate Canada 2022.

Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea have been third with a 65.75 after the quick program competing of their first season collectively.

In fourth place at 63.45, Valentina Plazas and Maximiliano Fernandez carried out a chic skate to “Maria” from West Facet Story. They have been the 2021 junior bronze medalists and completed sixth at nationals final yr of their senior debut as a pair.


AP Freelance Author Sonja Chen contributed to this report.


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