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US pairs skater Chris Knierim takes journey from California to Olympics

Mark Zeigler, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Olympics

"I did not like figure skating -- at all," he said. "We were forced to be at the rink so much that I pushed back a little bit."

Tyson learned his stepfather had wrestled in high school and figured, why not, he'd try out for the team at Ramona High. It quickly became his passion, the antithesis of sequins and Salchows, and he would wrestle in junior college before returning as varsity coach of the powerhouse Ramona High program.

Says Tyson: "I told Chris: 'Have your fun, dude. Go for it.' "

And Chris did, deciding at age 12 that he wanted to get serious about his mother's sport.

He took an interest in pairs, which requires synchronicity and responsibility, not to mention perilous lifts, twists and throws -- casting your partner into space with nothing but a sheet of ice to break the fall.

DeeDee shuddered and rubbed her hip.

"At first, she said: 'No, it's too dangerous,' " Chris says. "Eventually I convinced her."

Mother initially coached son but quickly realized that wasn't going to work. DeeDee had been around the sport long enough to see the pitfalls of pushing your children too hard. Chris got tired of his mother telling him what to do at the rink and what to do at home.

So DeeDee found him a coach in San Diego and, when he was 17, made the decision to move the family to the skating mecca of Colorado Springs so he could train under the respected Sappenfield. DeeDee found Sappenfield. Sappenfield found Alexa.

Alexa and Chris found love.

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