Happy 1 year Surgiversary to me! Thank you to my team and family for helping me get through the hardest chapter in my book. Shout out to God for keeping the story line interesting! Onto the next chapter. --- (The first of 3 surgeries!) #surgery #abdominalsurgery #keepdreaming #achieve #believe #bestrong #akck #god
Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim are competing in their first Olympic Games after making a comeback from a life-threatening illness that crippled Alexa just less than two years ago.
And they've just earned a bronze Olympic medal as part the Team USA group of eight skaters who just took third place in the team competition.
The Knierims are a power duo on and off the ice, tying the knot in June 2016. Shortly after, they found themselves unable to compete for 10 months – not long after their silver medal finish at the US Championships that year.
Alexa had developed a life-threatening stomach illness and underwent three abdominal surgeries according to Figure Skaters Online.
But the pair was back on the ice just weeks after her final surgery.
"After being diagnosed and after having the surgey, that journey back to the ice was the hardest thing I've ever been through," Alexa said in a Team USA "My Focus" video.
Alexa said her first time back on the ice she had to hold onto Chris and only was able to skate a few laps due to her weakened state.
Road blocks got in their way as the two had to work around Alexa's large abdominal incision and laparoscopic holes that were still healing. Several times the incision was reinjured when Chris put his hand on her stomach for a pairs element.
"We kept withdrawing from everything," Alexa said. "I really didn't think that this year was going to happen... I just didn't think I would be the athlete that I was again after my surgery."
Still, they persevered and the two went on to make it to the 2017 World Championships and qualify as the only pairs skaters representing team USA at this year's Olympics.
"I may have lost a lot of faith in myself, but I grew with my faith in God," Alexa said. "I have some insecurities now that I didn't have before, but I'm able to work on it and move forward because I've shifted my focus and my attention to my faith instead of myself."
"It was a hard year," Alexa told PEOPLE. "But it made us grow in ways I don't think we could have if we didn't go through the traumatic experience that we did."
Chris agreed, "After everything that we went through, that helped strengthen our relationship together."
The couple took fourth place in the pairs skating short program team event Friday morning in South Korea. The rest of the three day competition will consist of eight different disciplines, the two took the ice again Sunday to help Team USA earn a bronze medal.
Here are some of Alexa's best faith posts on Instagram over the past year, check them out: