Over in South Korea at the Olympics, figure skating couple Chris Knierim and Alexa Scimeca Knierim found out about the deaths of their compatriots back home right before representing the U.S. in a free-skate performance on international TV.
A television sits inside the warm-up room here at the Gangneung Ice Arena, where the skaters stretch and prepare just before taking the ice. For reasons that aren’t clear, on Thursday morning, it was tuned to CNN International.
That’s how, moments before the biggest skate of their life, Chris Knierim and Alexa Simeca-Knierim [sic] saw the news that 17 people had been killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The Knierims gasped at the stunning footage inside the high school. They choked up and then tried to perform their free skate here, the culmination of an Olympics that saw them win bronze in the team event.
While the Knierims’ skate wasn’t exactly a disappointment, because the couple has already exceeded expectations in Pyeongchang, something felt off. In the post-skate interview, the deaths were all that were on Alexa’s mind.
“We wanted to skate for the 17 children that died in the Florida shooting. And today was much more than about us,” Scimeca Knierim said.
“I was not focused on it while we were skating, but now that we are done, after we’ve skated, there’s an emotional hurt. I am overwhelmed,” she said.
It feels almost too obvious and redundant to go through all the different ways that this is so fucked up—from the ease of access to guns in the U.S. all the way to the fact that mass murder is now so normalized that everyone is simply expected to absorb the news and keep going through their days—but apparently it’s not obvious enough yet.