NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It didn’t take long for COVID-19 to disrupt this week’s United States Figure Skating Championships.
Reigning national champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier withdrew from tag team competition Wednesday night after Frazier tested positive for COVID-19, according to a US figure skating statement.
The duo were scheduled to skate their short program Thursday afternoon, in what is the last competition for American skaters before the team is named for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Knierim and Frazier were considered the favorites in pairs.
Frazier, 29, said in an Instagram video He began developing “severe symptoms” Tuesday night and then tested positive. He said he has been isolated ever since.
“Of course safety is the top priority for everyone at the event, so we had to withdraw,” he said. “Although my symptoms are pretty bad, nothing sucks more than not being able to compete.”
Knierim, meanwhile, pointed at your own Instagram post that Frazier tested positive “despite being vaccinated, boosted and having obtained a negative PCR test upon arrival.” She wrote that the couple had taken a variety of precautions prior to the event, including canceling holiday gatherings.
“It has been shocking and devastating for us to process what happened,” he wrote. “We have done everything possible to prepare for this event and we were ready to compete and defend our national title.”
NASHVILLE SCENE: Figure skating hotel full of people without a mask.
News of Frazier’s positive test came less than 24 hours before senior competition was scheduled to begin at Bridgestone Arena, with fans in attendance despite a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the Nashville area. due to the omicron variant.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of COVID-19 cases in Davidson County, where the city is located, has increased 129% in the past seven days.
The environment of the nationals, and the extremely contagious nature of omicron, raised questions about whether the event would take place or should be held behind closed doors. Other national governing bodies, including USA speed skating and Skate Canada, decided to take that step in recent weeks with their own events, citing COVID-19 prevention efforts.
Instead, US figure skating announced that it would continue to allow fans, but would require them to submit proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test upon reaching the arena.
At a press conference leading up to the event late last month, a reporter asked Knierim and Frazier if they thought they would feel safe in national competitions, amid the spread of COVID-19.
“Brandon and I have always felt very safe and secure under the advice of US figure skating,” Knierim said. “I think the plan they have in place will be enough to keep us safe. We are going to follow the protocols very strictly, and avoid contact … and keep to ourselves. Maintain our own bubble, which we can create out of the best possible way. I think everyone will be fine and safe as long as everyone is smart. “
Based in Irvine, California, Knierim and Frazier began competing together in March 2020 after spending several years with other partners; Knierim, for example, won three US titles with her husband, Chris, between 2015 and 2020.
Since joining, Knierim and Frazier finished seventh in the most recent world championships and third in a Grand Prix event in France earlier this season, in addition to their victory in the 2021 American championships.
It’s not immediately clear how Wednesday’s withdrawal will affect Knierim and Frazier’s Olympic hopes.
Unlike other sports, where Olympic places are awarded on tryouts, figure skating selects Team USA athletes based on their performances over a two-year period. The United States has three Olympic qualifying places in men’s, women’s and ice dance events, but only two places in pairs. The teams will be finalized by the conclusion of the nationals on Sunday.
The Beijing Games begin on February 4.
“We are very proud of what we have achieved as a team in our two seasons together,” Knierim wrote on Instagram. “Brandon and I have amassed an extremely strong body of work that positions us at the top of the field nationally and we are not going to let go of our Olympic dream.
“That said, we have the utmost respect for the selection committee and believe that they will make decisions based on the best interest of our team and our country.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism