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Posted: February 15, 2018

Olympic figure skaters dedicate performance to slain Florida high schoolers


Olympic figure skaters dedicate performance to slain Florida high schoolers
Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim of the USA perform in the pairs free skate figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

By Zuri Davis,

GANGNEUNG, South Korea —

Two Olympic figure skaters for Team USA learned of the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, just before their performance.

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On Wednesday afternoon, a gunman, who authorities say was 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 people at the Florida high school. Authorities charged Cruz with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Related: Who is Nikolas Cruz, accused gunman in Florida high school attack?

The news swiftly reached Pyeongchang, South Korea, where American athletes like figure skating partners Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim are currently competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The married couple are the only U.S. pairs skaters at the games.

NBC reported that, after hearing the news, Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim decided to dedicate their final Olympic skate to the victims of the shooting.

“We wanted to skate for the 17 children that died in the Florida shooting, and today was much more than about us,” Scimeca-Knierim said. “We wanted a tribute to the U.S. for their loss. Unfortunately, we had a lot of mistakes, but I think our motivation was to skate for those who were lost.”

Related: Florida school shooting suspect charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder

The Associated Press reported that, after her performance, Scimeca-Knierim said she was “emotionally drained.”

“I kind of put pressure on myself and wanted to honor those who were lost today.

“We are so privileged and lucky to be doing what we are doing, and it’s so sad that 17 people died in the United States. I told Chris today he’d need to be so much stronger than me.

“I am disappointed with the way we performed today, but so many people at home are hurting because their children have died,” she said. “I was not focused on it while we were skating, but now that we are done, after we’ve skated, there's an emotional hurt. I am overwhelmed.”

The couple’s performance can be viewed at the NBC Olympics website.

Related video: At Least 17 Dead, More Than A Dozen Injured In Florida High School Shooting

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