‘Glorify God’: Christian Olympic Skaters Credit Their Faith to Overcoming Debilitating Illness

U.S.A. earns a bronze in the team skating competition, with help of a couple battling back from a potentially fatal illness.

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim of the United States compete in the Figure Skating Team Event - Pair Skating Short Program during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 9, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.

By Nancy Flory Published on February 12, 2018

Husband and wife pairs figure skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim were all smiles Thursday night after taking part in the team competition at the Winter Olympics. Though they skated well, and helped the U.S.A. score a bronze, the smiles weren’t over their score. 

The Knierim’s have overcome a potentially deadly illness that left Alexa weighing only 80 pounds. Just competing at this year’s Olympics is a victory for the couple. And for that victory, they give all credit to their faith. 

Life — and Skating — Put on Hold

In April of 2016 Alexa became ill at a competition. She was diagnosed in August of that year with a serious intestinal illness that required immediate surgery. She would undergo three operations in total. 

The couple withdrew from all competition for the first half of 2017. “My life, our life, changed drastically in that time period — life was on hold and we weren’t really sure what life would be for the two of us,” Alexa told People.

The illness left her very weak. “The very first time I stepped back on the ice after my surgeries, Chris had to hold me up because my body was not capable of standing on its own.”

How far Pyeongchang must have seemed from the training rink.

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“You Lead the Way”

On Sunday, Alexa and Chris spoke to reporters  about how their Christian faith sustained them. “It’s the reason I was able to get back on the ice,” said Alexa.“I stopped worrying and stopped trying to control life, because I couldn’t. In the moment, you know, I was so sick and didn’t really know where things were going to go for me, whether it was skating or life in general. So I finally just threw my hands up and said like, ‘You lead the way,’ and it’s my testimony and I stay true to it.”

She said being at the Olympics it isn’t about her. “I have fans out there who know that I am a true believer in the Lord and I’m trying my best to shine his light and let people know that it’s okay to promote him and do things for him, because in the Christian life that’s kind of what we’re supposed to.”

Alexa added that being at the Olympics was an opportunity to “glorify God, and my followers know that’s my purpose and it makes me happy. I’m living my dream, and if that’s the way that I have to go about it, I’ll keep doing it.”

The husband and wife team participate in group prayers before their competitions and regularly meet with other Christian athletes in Colorado, reported People.

Faith has taken a big role in the couple’s lives, said Alexa. “I truly believe that’s why we were able to get here.”

Chris added that being at the Olympics was the “cherry on top.” “We’ve had a tough couple of years, and this is just something really special.”

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