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Olympic medalist Knierim, new partner lead US pairs

Olympic team bronze medalist Alexa Knierim and her new partner, Brandon Frazier, led after the pairs short program that opened the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Thursday night.

Knierim teamed with husband Chris for the 2018 Olympics, and they won their third national title last year. Chris has since retired, so his wife joined with Frazier, the 2017 U.S. pairs champion with Haven Denney. Knierim and Frazier won Skate America in October, and she won nationals with her husband in 2015, 2018, and 2020.

They scored 77.46 points for a solid lead over Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson, who were second at 71.3034. Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov were third at 69.56.

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier perform during the pairs short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)

Pairs conclude Saturday night with the free skate.

Late Thursday at the Orleans Arena was the women's short program.

Nationals were moved from San Jose, California, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and no fans were allowed.

Alexa Knierim, right, and Brandon Frazier perform during the pairs short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)