Skeleton: Noelle Pikus-Pace sets record in victory (with video)
Park City • There really wasn't any other way this was going to end, was there?
Eagle Mountain's Noelle Pikus-Pace, a week after being stripped of a victory in a controversial disqualification ruling, set the track record and dominated the field Friday to win the gold medal in the World Cup women's skeleton competition at the Utah Olympic Park.
Racing on her home course for perhaps the final time, Pikus-Pace's second run of 49.74 seconds erased the mark she set a few hours earlier (49.80), which broke a track record that stood for nearly 12 years.
"This is obviously the fastest ice I've ever been on here," the Orem native said. "I've been chasing this record for 15 years, and now to lay it down on what could most likely be my last run on this track is pretty special."
This time, there was no controversy like that of a week ago in Calgary, where her victory was wiped out because a piece of tape on the handle of her sled. That decision, which left Pikus-Pace in tears, also fueled her fire in the week leading up to Friday's competition.
"As I stood up there [at the starting line], the only thing on my mind was I'm going to lay down, I'm going to throw it down and I'm going to bring it today," she said. "It's been an awesome day. It's been incredible to have the support I've had. It's been absolutely incredible."
Her victory set off a demonstrative celebration as she exited the track in front of a portion of her very vocal family and friends. In all, more than 30 people rang bells, waved larger-than-life posters of Pikus-Pace's face and showered her with support after her record run.
Great Britain's Elizabeth Yarnold, who was awarded the gold medal after last week's ruling, finished 0.68 seconds back in second place, ahead of Canada's Sarah Reid. The U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation's appeal still is being reviewed.
In the men's competition, American Matthew Antoine captured a bronze medal when he finished 0.14 seconds back of winner Alexander Tretiakov of Russia. Latvia's Martins Dukurs won silver.
Antoine, who narrowly missed the podium last week, was pleased to medal alongside two sliders considered the favorites for gold in the Winter Games in Sochi.
"I was hungry when we came out this week," Antoine said. "You know, this is the time you want to peak, and I feel like everything's heading in the right direction. I'm looking forward to challenging for the rest of the season."
World Cup skeleton
O Eagle Mountain's Noelle Pikus-Pace sets two course records and wins a World Cup race on her home course for the first time.
• Pikus-Pace had last week's World Cup victory taken away after a controversial disqualification that is under appeal.