Winter Olympics

Skating and dating: The challenges of being both figure skater partners and real-life couple

USA’s Chris and Alexa Knierim and Russians Vladimir Morozov and Evgenia Tarasova are among the top figure skaters who are romantics partners off the rink.

The next time you have a ‘domestic’ with your nearest and dearest spare a thought for love on ice couple Chris and Alexa Knierim.

The US figure skaters competing at the Olympics are partners on the ice, and married off it.

They say you should never take your work home with you, but for the two-time former US champions it’s unavoidable.

A heated exchange over the cornflakes needs to be quickly forgotten if like Alexa you have to put your total trust in the man you would have happily throttled a short time earlier. He’s the one throwing you up in the air, spinning, and then catching you - all the while having to wear a smile.

“Yeh, you can get that kind of situation, with any relationship whether you’re married or just work partners,” Chris told AFP.

Alexa nods in agreement: “We’re human, so we still run in to that sometimes.”

“I think it’s easy for us in our situation and maybe its different for other people that it’s an asset for us,” Chris adds, “we know what works and what doesn’t, talking, you know how to say something the right way.

“It’s a lot of communication, we’ve learned throughout the years of being together what works and what doesn’t.

“We switch off the minute you get in the ring – yeh for sure.”

Rink romance in Pyeongchang is by no means confined to the Knierims.

Russians Vladimir Morozov and Evgenia Tarasova, the two-time European champions, are rarely out of step whether are on or off.

“We had mutual understanding from the very beginning,” Tarasova said.

“I decided to listen to Vladimir in everything, he is older, but I do not remember him ever raising his voice at me.”

Her red-haired work and life companion added: “We practically do not have these situations, honestly! Maybe that’s our power.”

‘Life obstacles’

With all the athleticism, artistry, and emotional intelligence required in their sport, the Knierims say that life off the ice is by far the easy part.

“Outside the rink life is easy,” explains Alexa.

“I mean skating’s our job, that’s our income, that’s our livelihood, that’s the stress. When we go home it’s play time, it’s easy. It was not always like that, they say.

“Right after we got married we had a lot of life obstacles,” she said, with Chris agreeing: “We really hit the marriage hard.”

“Yep sickness, death in the family, we hit it all, those things changed us on the ice,” added Alexa.

But love on and off the ice does not conquer all.

The Knierim’s fellow Americans, ice dance pair Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue ended their two-and-a-half year romance but kept the day job and remain a couple on ice.

“To work harder and do all of these things right, we just realised that to date and be with each other 24-7 with our particular personalities was just explosive,” Donohue said.

“We had to ask ourselves what was more important, our on-ice partnership or our off-ice relationship?

“And we were both very clearly said the on-ice partnership is No. 1,” added his ex.

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