Noelle Pikus-Pace and her top rival flip-flopped again on the World Cup skeleton circuit Friday, with Great Britain’s Elizabeth Yarnold winning her fourth race of the season in Igls, Austria.
Pikus-Pace was second.
The sliders had each won three of the previous six World Cup races, heading into the penultimate race of the season, and the other had finished at least third in every race but one - setting up a dramatic showdown at the 2014 Sochi Olympics after the final World Cup race of the season next weekend in Konigssee, Germany.
"I know I can medal every week because I know what my abilities are," Pikus-Pace said. "I have a passion for it right now, and I didn’t always have that. I feel this peaceful calm at the start and I know my best is good enough. It’s in part because of everyone that has supported me on this journey, from coaches and family and sponsors."
Pikus-Pace clocked a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 49.32 seconds - a massive 0.32 seconds behind Yarnold. Janine Flock of Austria and Maria Orlova of Russia tied for third, another 0.35 seconds back.
The Orem native and Eagle Mountain resident said she was motivated by knowing that her mother had set up the online broadcast of the race for her gravely ill grandfather back home in Utah.
"I don’t know if he could hear it or even knew it was on, but I knew he was there with me," Pikus-Pace said. "He’s expected to pass and we are hoping he can be at peace soon. It’s been really hard for me to be here, but I know my mom and family are taken care of at home. Grandpa was always there at every game or race throughout my life, and it gives me a reason to compete. It pushes me to be my best because of the sacrifices my ancestors have made to bring me to where I am."
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