Chris Knierim remembers leaving middle school early to practice figure skating at the San Diego Ice Arena and not telling his friends about it, fearing they'd make fun of his newfound passion.
Many years later, Knierim who grew up in Escondido and Ramona, looks back on those days and laughs, feeling confident about who he is and all he has accomplished.
Knierim is zeroing in on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where he and his pairs partner Alexa Scimeca hope to break a nearly 30-year drought for Team USA. American pairs figure skaters haven't medaled at the Olympics since 1988.
Knierim and Scimeca don't lack for chemistry. They're a pair on and off the ice. The couple, married now for a little more than a year, knows they have something special and they hope it will give them an extra edge over their competitors.
Knierim said there are many stereotypes surrounding male figure skaters and he hopes to break those down so younger boys feel confident pursuing the sport.
"There was always this, like, you're a male figure skater, so you have to be a certain way," he explained. "And I was not the typical -- even now I work on cars -- I'm a man's man but I go and I skate. And I wear sparkles -- if my wife tells me."
The couple now lives in Colorado, but thanks to their success on the ice, they get to travel the world competing together.
But, Knierim misses a lot of things about his hometown of San Diego, including the smell of the beach, his friends and family, including his brother Tyson who lives in Ramona, and In N' Out Burger.