Utah’s Noelle-Pikus Pace won a bronze medal in a World Cup skeleton race in Germany on Friday — her second since returning to the sport following a 2-1/2-year retirement.
It also was her first career medal on the track at Alternberg, where her previous best was ninth place.
“The curse of the ninth place has been broken,” she said. “Woo-hoo, and that’s said with some extra ‘o’s’ on the end of it because I am so excited.”
Pikus-Pace was not the only American on the podium, either.
Teammate Katie Uhlaender finished second behind two-time world champion Marion Thees of Germany. Uhlaender was on pace to win before a mistake in a crucial 360-degree turn cost her precious speed, and she finished with a two-run combined time of 2 minutes and 2.60 seconds — just 0.01 seconds behind Thees.
Pikus-Pace moved up with a strong second run in slopping conditions to finish in 2:02.87.
Both Americans stayed in Europe over the holiday break, which was a bit easier for Pikus-Pace because her husband and two children have been traveling with her since her return to the World Cup circuit. The family lives in Eagle Mountain, and Pikus-Pace grew up in Orem, graduating from Mountain View High School and Utah Valley University before competing in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“It’s definitely hard being away for Christmas, but I was fortunate to have my husband and children here with me,” she said. “Our purpose for being here is to race, so we were ready to make some sacrifices. We were looking forward to the season picking up again, and I think our team is really strong heading into World Championships in a couple weeks.”
— Michael C. Lewis