by Liz Leamy
(21 March 2021) Alexa Scimeca-Knierim & Brandon Frazier, the recently crowned 2021 U.S. pair champions, are powered up to challenge the sport’s best at the World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden.
This dynamic duo, who trains in Irvine, California with Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, the three-time U.S. titlists and three-time World medalists (silver in 1998 and bronze in 1995 and 1996 respectively), certainly will be a team to watch at this celebrated global showdown, especially considering their superior technical library that features a high-flying triple twist, soaring throw triple jumps and fast and fluid lifts, among other skills.
This past season, Scimeca-Knierim & Frazier have made an indelible mark as one of the sport’s rising international stars of the sport, catapulting all the way to the pinnacle of American pair skating in less than a year’s time, having only teamed up together this past April.
Although each of these skaters had super-impressive competitive backgrounds (Scimeca-Knierim was a three-time U.S. Champion and 2018 Olympian with her husband, Chris Knierim and Frazier was the 2017 pair titlist with Haven Denney), their on-ice chemistry clearly seems to be much of the reason for their success so far.
In citing this critical factor, Scimeca-Knierim & Frazier, who clinched gold at the 2020 Guaranteed Rate Skate America Championship this past fall, it’s all about optimizing and embracing their potent alchemy together.
“I think there was a bit of surprise when we did mesh together so well and so quickly,” said Scimeca-Knierim, an Addison, Illinois native. “It works well for us and we kind of feed off of each other in the competitive environment.”
At the 2021 U.S. Championships in Las Vegas, the duo scored a high 228.10 total for their collection of stunning lifts, a big throw triple loop and triple flip, solid side-by-side triples and an edge-of-your seat triple twist, among other elements.
Since Nationals, which were held last January, the duo has been training as hard as ever, concentrating more than anything on their program components.
“I’ve been very pleased for the season [so far] and we’re just going to keep going after it. We’re just trying to keep getting everything together as a well-packaged team,” said Frazier, who hails from Phoenix, Arizona. “Throughout the season, we’ve just been building our partnership and overall, one of the things we’re trying to improve is presentation, including skating skills and edge quality.”
According to Scimeca-Knierim & Frazier,
training is the most vital and critical component of their
“Brandon and I love to work hard,” said Scimeca-Knierim. “Now that we’ve [skated in] some competitions, everything is a stepping stone.”
In regard to going into the global ring next week to rally with the rest of the world’s finest pair teams at the Ericsson Global Arena (a world-famous venue shaped like a massive white ball), Scimeca-Knierim & Frazier are as fired up as ever to show who they are as a team.
“Brandon and I have been working really hard since [Nationals] in order to prepare for the World Championships and when we go out to compete we want to just show the real version of ourselves,” said Scimeca-Knierim. “Training’s been going well and more than anything, we’ve been enjoying the process. The good things we do keep motivating us to try even more.”
Frazier, who concurred with his partner, also spoke about competing the idea of competing internationally during these challenging pandemic times.
“We’re excited to be given the chance to compete at the World Championships, especially with everything that’s been going on,” said Frazier. “We’re going to take extreme precaution [with traveling and throughout the whole event].”
In terms of their preparation, the two gave big props to their coaches, Meno and Sand, saying they are feeling as ready as ever going into Worlds.
“They have prepared us both,” said Scimeca-Knierim. “It’s [Meno and Sand’s] support and emotional connection that’s keeping us focused [and will] throughout the week.”
Since skaters are only allowed just one coach at this competition due to pandemic restrictions and safety measures, the two were faced with a difficult decision as to figuring out who would go with them, however.
In the end, Meno wound up as the chosen coach chosen to for the trip, with this decision having been made as the result of Scimeca-Knierim & Frazier having picked her name out of a hat, yet another reflection of their clever and good-hearted teamwork.
[On a random note, Scimeca-Knierim’s fluffy black cat, Muffy, wound up being a surprise hit guest during this pre-Worlds Zoom conference call with media members, as she dutifully sat alongside Scimeca-Knierim staring into the camera for much of the 20-minute discussion period, which generated some memorable and fun banter with everyone.]