Noelle Pikus-Pace: Sliding For GoldBy: Val Powell - February 14, 2014
Noelle Pikus-Pace was all set to retire from skeleton racing, but the universe must have willed her not to—at least, not until she bags some Olympic gold. The American athlete has been on the sled since she was fifteen.
Pikus-Pace finished one-tenth of a second away from the bronze at the Vancouver Olympics four years ago. Now, after two runs, she is currently in second place. Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain leads with .44 seconds, and Elena Nikitina of Russia is right on Pikus-Pace’s heels only 0.11 seconds away. Katie Uhlaender, who is also competing under the Stars and Stripes, is in fourth place and is .14 seconds behind Nikitina.
Pikus-Pace has only had two training runs out of six. She had to skip the last four runs due to back pains—she has three herniated disks, and she overworked her back during an unofficial training run. She recovered by relaxing and spending time with her family. When she first thought of retirement, that was what she wanted to do: spend quality time with her kids Lacee and Traycen, and husband Janson.
On the first run of the women’s skeleton, Pikus-Pace posted a run time of 58.68 seconds, .20 seconds behind Nikitina’s time. Yarnold finished her first run in 58.43 seconds, setting a track record. Pikus-Pace isn’t known for her starts, which have been observed to be among the slowest in the event, but she does have expert skills when it comes to driving down the track. This was seen during the second run, when she drove fast enough to beat Nikitina for second.
The racers are all set to meet again on Friday for their final two runs at the Sanki Sliding Center. Hopefully, for Pikus-Pace, it will be the last runs of her career, and she can go home with her family, Olympic medal in tow.
Watch Noelle Pikus-Pace win in Park City
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