Illinois skater Alexa Knierim and her partner Brandon Frazier quickly rose to the top of the leaderboard and guaranteed their spot in the pairs figure skating finals with a stunning short program performance Friday at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Performing to "House of the Rising Sun" by Heavy Young Heathens, the U.S. figure skating duo scored a 74.23 to take an early lead in the pairs short program.
Knierim and Frazier, the second of 18 pairs to skate, received a 40.64 technical score and 33.59 component score for a performance that NBC's Tara Lipinski called "electric."
"They were so ready for this moment," Lipinski said.
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That put them ahead of Georgia's Karina Safina and Luka Berulava, who scored a 66.11. They remained in the lead even after several skates, but ended the short program in sixth place.
"We competed exactly how we've been skating and what we set out to do," Frazier said. "I'm just so proud and still enjoying the Olympic experience. But above all, just so proud of what Alexa and I are doing and how we're holding ourselves. Some things were a little tight but most of all we went out there and attacked that program and gave it everything we've got."
The duo, which first paired in 2020, placed third in their short program during the team event. Frazier is making his Olympic debut in Beijing, Knierim, an Addison, Illinois native, earned bronze in the event at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics while competing with her husband and former skating partner, Chris Knierim.
Also competing for the U.S. were Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, who came just behind Knierim and Frazier in seventh place. The duo, skating together since 2016, is making its Olympic debut after coming in first at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
The top 16 pairs advance to Saturday's free skate.