“I’m emotionally drained,” Alexa Scimeca-Knierim said as she broke down in tears following one of the most difficult performances of their careers. “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 stopped to gather herself as her husband patted her on the head.

“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,” she said. “I am overwhelmed.”

Scimeca-Knierim said she was bothered the previous night by intestinal problems, though nothing related to major abdominal surgeries she underwent in recent years that nearly curtailed their career. Their struggles on the ice Thursday mainly stemmed from Chris falling twice on jumps and some uncoordinated spins.

“We did hit the quad twist,” he noted of the move in which he tosses his wife above his head and she twists four times before he catches her. They are the first U.S. couple to do the maneuver in an Olympics, though the quad twist is becoming more common throughout the world. “That was the highlight of the program, unfortunately.”

The Knierims own a bronze medal for the team event, of course. They skated four stressful programs in a span of a week, and with practice sessions and early morning wake-up calls, it’s been a wearing time.

Both recognized they weren’t close to their best in the free skate.

“My first thought,” she said about their performance, “was I hope teams that are