Back in January 2015, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and her then-fiance, Christopher, won the national title. Then, in December, they competed at the Grand Prix Final, the first United States pair to do so in eight years. After that, however, skating fell below several health priorities. The night before her wedding, she was up vomiting for most of it.

The episodes

Alexa suffered episodes of vomiting that lasted more than 12 hours at a time. The road to recovery was not without pain. Scimeca Knierim suffered from the episodes for almost a year. Her doctors informed her that, had they not found a strategy for treatment, she might have died.

The treatment required two abdominal surgeries as well as a third one to repair some damage.

Their coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, sat through all of the doctor’s appointments, practice sessions, and difficult moments. Alexa’s mental stamina grew in the uncertainty of the process. She and Chris had great faith and spiritual strength to push through it.

In an interview with NBC reporter Nick Zaccardi, Alexa said, “The pain was so severe and significant that sleeping was out of the question. I couldn’t fall asleep because the pain would just wake me up. Any time I would have pain, I couldn’t consume anything. Not water or food. I was becoming malnourished and sleep-deprived and weak.”

In the seven months of intense pain she suffered, many came to show their support, including both of their parents and many other skaters.

She lost approximately 20 pounds during her battle, reducing her to 80 pounds before recovery.

Early in 2017, they returned at the Four Continents Championships at the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea in an attempt to petition for a spot in the Olympics after missing other qualifying competitions. They were successful, tallying the second highest score by a United States pair in the international competition.

Here and now

On Thursday, February 8, 2018, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and her husband, Christopher, entered the ice arena in PyeongChang. They’ve done this more times than they can count, but this moment was a triumph before the music even began. The song, "Come What May," from "Moulin Rouge," guided them across the ice cleanly and gracefully.

Earning a score of 69.75, they came in fourth, beaten by the 80.92 score achived by Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, the Olympic athletes from Russia.

Alexa’s physical therapist says that she has the potential to do well despite her setbacks. Alexa says she feels 100 percent and their performances in the first days of the competition prove that. The United States is incredibly proud of the work they've done.