Feb 18, 2013, 10:13 AM EST
SOCHI, Russia – American skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace gave new meaning to “Mother Russia” with her win Saturday at the Sochi World Cup, held on the future Olympic track at Sanki Sliding Center. The Utah native has had a blazing comeback season — she retired after finishing fourth at the 2010 Olympics — but she says her success wouldn’t be possible without the support of her family.
With the exception of her trip to Russia, Pikus-Pace has traveled everywhere this season with her husband, Janson, and their two children, daughter Lacee (5) and son Traycen (turns 2 next month), in tow. The 30-year-old reached the podium at five straight World Cups this season, and also won silver at the World Championships last month in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
“Having my family with me has honestly made all the difference in the world,” she says. “I’m happy and just enjoying it. That’s what I attribute [my success] to.”
Pikus-Pace’s triumphant return to skeleton – in which racers slide headfirst down the bobsled track at more that 80 mph – was prompted by an emotional loss: She began to reevaluate her retirement after suffering a miscarriage last April.
“I didn’t feel emotionally or physically ready to get pregnant again,” she says. “It was actually June of last year when [Janson and I] said, ‘Why don’t we try to go for the Olympics one last time? Let’s make this a family affair.’ The only way we’d do this is if our whole family could go with us, because that’s my top priority. I just can’t leave them for months at a time.”
Pikus-Pace admits that balancing everything can take its toll, but she has the support of her coaches and team, as well as the help of her husband, who she says has taken on the role of “Mr. Mom.” The couple makes an effort to document everything, taking photos and videos so that the kids will remember their adventure, which Pikus-Pace says is already making its mark on their daughter.
“Sometimes when I come home from sliding, [Lacee] puts on my speed suit, my helmet, my gloves, and my spikes, and she pretends to run and jump on my sled,” Pikus-Pace says. “Then she just lays there like she’s going down the track and moves her body like I do.”
While Pikus-Pace says that she will support her daughter no matter what, she admits that she would prefer it if Lacee picked up a sport like tennis or softball.
“Something summer-related, so I can cheer her on in the sunshine.”
Mar 7, 2014, 3:28 PM EST
Full Day 1 recap of events in Sopot, Poland.
Mar 7, 2014, 2:15 PM EST
Ukraine official has said delegation may leave Sochi if Crimea situation escalates.
Mar 7, 2014, 1:52 PM EST
White House spokesman says case of beer will be delivered soon.
Mar 7, 2014, 1:39 PM EST
Races for World Cup crystal globes heat up in Sweden.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:52 AM EST
Zero Americans won medals in Sochi. Two made the podium in one day in Inzell.
Mar 7, 2014, 10:51 AM EST
Canada’s gold-medal goalie headed for Columbus, Ga.
Mar 7, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
Watch the ceremony from Fisht Stadium in Sochi.
Mar 7, 2014, 9:58 AM EST
Security guard, ex-girlfriend testify on fifth day of murder trial.
Mar 7, 2014, 9:49 AM EST
Same agency that confirmed Yuna Kim is dating a South Korean hockey player.
Mar 7, 2014, 6:59 AM EST
Lead singer rubbed blue substance on his face during their performance.
Mar 7, 2014, 6:31 AM EST
Ukraine athletes set to compete in Russia amid Crimea situation.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:43 PM EST
1984 and 1988 Olympic champion joins Arizona Cardinals staff.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:28 PM EST
Teemu Selanne’s socks among more than 50 items on display.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:10 PM EST
“They need skateboarding more than we need them.”
Mar 6, 2014, 5:31 PM EST
Tatyana McFadden eyes history in homecoming. Military vets share common sledge hockey bond. Model/Amazing Race contestant helps bring snowboading to Paralympics. Husband and wife team go for skiing gold. Former Austrian World Cup Alpiner learns to ski again.
Mar 6, 2014, 1:21 PM EST
New U.S. sprint star, world records watch, Jamaican back from failed drug test.
Mar 6, 2014, 11:33 AM EST
Austrian Olympic champion takes victory in Sweden.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:28 AM EST
Universal Sports has live online coverage all weekend.
Mar 6, 2014, 9:46 AM EST
Oscar Pistorius kneeled, cried, prayed while holding girlfriend, witness said.
Mar 5, 2014, 4:33 PM EST
Canadian women’s goalie practiced with the Oilers on Wednesday.
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