Ice Network

The Inside Edge: Scimeca, Knierim tie the knot

2015 U.S. pairs champions' wedding officiated by coach Sappenfield
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim pose for a photo on their wedding day in a ceremony that saw several members of Team USA in attendance. -Hans Rosemond photography

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, the 2015 U.S. pairs champions, wed June 26 in Colorado Springs. The ceremony took place outdoors under dramatic cloudy skies at The Lodge at Flying Horse, a new resort featuring views of the Rocky Mountains' front range.

Dalilah Sappenfield, who has coached and trained the pair since bringing the duo together in 2012, officiated the wedding. Scimeca and Knierim asked Sappenfield to do the honors with a "proposal," giving her a cake with "Will you marry us?" written on top. Sappenfield's son, Larry Ibarra, who also coaches the pair, was the "flower girl," walking down the aisle scattering rose petals before the bride.

Scimeca wore sparkling tiara over a frothy princess dress with a strapless sweetheart top covered in pearl beading and a skirt of layers of chiffon. Knierim looked debonair in a dark suit with a gray vest. The wedding cake, decorated with pink roses, was topped with a groom carrying a bride in something approximating a lift and a couple of tiny dogs in honor of the couple's pets.

Skaters in attendance included Ashley Wagner, Adam Rippon, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Max Aaron, Ryan Bradley, Drew Meekins and the other pairs skaters in the Sappenfield camp, including Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage.

The ceremony included a special skating moment before the exchanging of rings: The bride and groom symbolized their union by attaching a blade to a boot.

"She's the love of my life, plain and simple," Knierim wrote in an email. "We're pairs on the ice and we're partners off of it. I can't imagine things being any other way."

"This was a dream come true on so many levels," Scimeca added. "Every little girl dreams of three things: being a princess, finding a prince and having a fairytale wedding. Well, I found my prince in Chris -- he's always made me feel safe and loved and respected. He is as gentle as he is strong, and he truly is my perfect partner -- both on and off the ice."

At the reception, the newly married couple performed a dance choreographed to "Unchained Melody," using the moment to announce that the piece would be their free skate music in the upcoming season.

Rising star

There was a lot of buzz about 14-year-old Tessa Hong at the Broadmoor Open earlier this month. Competing as a senior lady for the first time, the youngster won the event, topping veterans Amber Glenn, Ashley Cain and Mariah Bell.

Hong was the 2014 U.S. intermediate champion, but she hasn't made it back to the U.S. championships since. During the 2014-2015 season, she withdrew from her regional qualifying event. She then broke her left ankle on the way to sectionals in November 2015 and was off the ice for three months. She now trains in Colorado Springs with Tom Zakrajsek and will be competing as a senior in the upcoming season.

Hong landed a triple lutz-triple toe in her ethereal and graceful short programto "Ave Maria"  choreographed by Drew Meekins. She finished second in the segment with a score of 62.70. (Glenn won the short program with 66.77 points.)

"Coming back from my injury completely drained me during the short program warmup," she said. "I was unable to land any jumps. But as soon as my name was announced and I heard my music start, I was able to push my fatigue and anxiety away and compete well."

Meekins also choreographed Hong's free skate to "Caruso," sung by Katherine Jenkins. She popped one combination but landed a triple lutz-triple toe and a triple salchow-triple toe-double toe as well as another triple lutz on the way to winning the title with a competition total of 166.70.

"The free skate program is so beautifully choreographed," Hong said. "The song is so touching and emotional, it was easy for me to be drawn in and skate with emotion. I was very pleased with the way I performed."

"Tessa has had a lot of ballet, and she's a gold medalist in ice dance as well," Meekins said. "Her carriage and port de bras are superb, and I didn't want to restrict that. I wanted to include room for Tessa to interpret the choreography in her own way."

Zakrajsek said he was impressed by the way Hong has come back from the injury and gotten back in shape so early in the season.

"She trains to be a complete skater every day during every session, and there's so much attention to the choreography and expression, as well as the technical elements," he said.

Hong is in the International Selection Pool for the 2016-17 season based on good scores at her one Junior Grand Prix (JGP) event in Spain. She is hoping for another JGP assignment.

"The goal for Tessa is to train strongly and qualify at each competition, beginning with regionals," Zakrajesk said. "She'd love to get to the U.S. championships. She would like to improve with each competition."

Hong's other goal is to show maturity in her choreography and interpretation, as well as her technical ability. She chose both pieces of music she's skating to this season, showing a preference for vocal music because, as well as taking lots of dance, she is also a singer.

"I do it as a hobby -- I don't really sing in public," Hong clarified.

"She has been doing ballet since she was 3 years old," Hong's mother Miyung said. "And she does lots of other kinds of dance, so that really helps her show different styles. Working with Drew, she's not limited to just one kind of music: She can interpret all kinds of music. Being 14 and competing with senior ladies, coach Tom and the team want to make sure she is able to compete with them in maturity as well as skating skills."

Moeller skating again

Aleksei Krasnozhon won the junior men's event at the Broadmoor Open, as well as the Skate Great Aerial Figure Skating Challenge. He scored 144.40 in the free skate, which included a couple of triple axels and an under-rotated quad loop for a total of 214.58 points. Scott Brown choreographed his program to Aaron Copland's Rodeo. U.S. junior champion Tomoki Hiwatashi came in second.

Ashley Kim, who won the ladies event at the Aerial Challenge, topped the junior ladies free skate at the Broadmoor Open. She finished second overall behind winner Brynne McIsaac. Anthony Boucher won the senior men's event.

It was good to see Jordan Moeller back on the ice at this event. He's still recovering from surgery to repair a broken fibula last December and only did single jumps, but his programs look beautiful.

Follow The Inside Edge on Twitter @SarahandDrew!