USA Bobsled and Skeleton

Pikus-Pace Leads U.S. Women's Skeleton Team

Feb. 26, 2009, 3:53 p.m. (ET)
Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager

(518) 523-1842, ext 106, abird@usbsf.com

For Immediate Release

February 26, 2009

Pikus-Pace Leads U.S. Women's Skeleton Team

Lake Placid, N.Y.- The first two of four heats of the women's skeleton World Championships kicked off at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, N.Y. today.  Noelle Pikus-Pace (Orem, Utah) leads the U.S. women after the first two heats of competition in 11th position. 

World Cup champion Marion Trott from Germany set the pace as the first athlete to descend the course this morning, obliterating the track record by 0.76 seconds.  The previous record, 56.21 seconds, was set by Pikus-Pace in October.

"I want it back," said Pikus-Pace with a laugh.  "It's going to be tough to beat."

Pikus-Pace has been wearing headphones until right before her run to eliminate distractions, and didn't hear Trott's time.

"I've been struggling with being focused all season, which is why I wear headphones before my run," said Pikus-Pace.  "I know this track, and if I can keep those doubts out of my mind I know I can have a decent run."

Pikus-Pace slid to the finish in 56.21 and 57.22 seconds for a two-run total of one minute, 53.43 seconds. 

"I felt good going into the second run, I just overdrove," said Pikus-Pace.  "The ice was a lot softer, which you can tell by the times.  I had a hit out of corner three, which killed my speed. Tomorrow is another day, and there are two more runs in this competition."

Hundreds of school children attended today's first two heats of the women's skeleton event.  Pikus-Pace laughed as the students read the saddle of her sled, which reads, "It is impossible to lick your elbow," and then attempted to try.

"It keeps me smiling," said Pikus-Pace.  "I change it every few races, and it's just a nice way to remind myself to have fun."

Trott slid runs of 55.45 and 56.84 for a total time of 1:52.29.  Trott leads the field of 26 sleds by four-tenths of a second.  German Anja Huber is currently in second with a two-run total of 1:52.69 after sliding to the finish in 55.70 and 56.99 seconds.  Emma Lincoln-Smith from Australia surprised the field, and is sitting in third with a combined time of 1:52.80 after sliding runs of 55.86 and 56.94. 

The top ten sleds in the first heat crossed the finish line with a time faster than the previous track record. 

Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) finished just one-hundredth of a second from her teammate in 12th position with a two-run total of 1:53.44.  Uhlaender pushed a start time of 5.45 for a run of 56.41 seconds in the first heat. 

"Katie didn't have any big troubles in her first run," said Martin Rettl, U.S. skeleton team driving coach.  "Every split she was losing a little more time, but there were no big problems in her run.  It was actually one of the nicest runs of the field."

Uhlaender is sliding with a renewed purpose since her father, Ted, passed away on February 12th.  Ted Uhlaender, a former major league outfielder, was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer last year.  Uhlaender attended the funeral service last week before making the difficult decision to return to Lake Placid to compete.   

"Katie is not 100% here, which is understandable," said Rettl.  "She tries to give her best.  It is a tough situation right now that she's going through."

Uhlaender pushed off the starting block in 5.40 seconds before sliding to the finish with the fifth fastest run of the second heat, 57.03.  The two-time World Cup champion wiped away tears after removing her helmet. 

"There have been days I have had to force myself out of bed, and days I need to remind myself to breath," Uhlaender said earlier this week.  "My father did not want me to loose focus of my dream because of this situation, and I will give all I have to chase an Olympic dream that most definitely meant as much or more to him as it does to me."

Keslie Tomlinson (Potomac Falls, Va.) is competing in only her second World Championship event, and is in 15th with a total time of 1:53.95.  Tomlinson pushed her personal best start time, 5.58 seconds, in the first heat. 

"I definitely feel fortunate to be here," said Tomlinson.  "I wasn't expecting to be here, but this has been another amazing experience.  At the top before the second run, there were so many kids that were excited and were chanting ‘USA,' which put a huge smile on my face."

Tomlinson crossed the finish line in 56.53 and 57.42 seconds.  After taking a few minutes to analyze times, Tomlinson commented on the excitement about today's track record speeds.

"We were all excited because we knew it was a fast track," said Tomlinson.  "We weren't too surprised, because Marion has been sliding so amazing this entire season."

Complete results can be found by visiting the web site for the Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing at http://www.fibt.com/.  For additional information, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at (518) 523-1842, ext. 106, or abird@usbsf.com

Results:

1. Marion Trott (GER) 1:52.29 (55.45, 56.84); 2. Anja Huber (GER) 1:52.69 (55.70, 56.99); 3. Emma Lincoln-Smith (AUS) 1:52.80 (55.86, 56.94);...11. Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA) 1:53.43 (56.21, 57.22); 12. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 1:53.44 (56.41, 57.03); ...15. Keslie Tomlinson (USA) 1:53.95 (56.53, 57.42);

About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation

The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: Allianz Life, Vilter Manufacturing, KBC Helmets, Luminox Watch Company, ULU Boots and Ferris Mfg. Corp. The USBSF would also like to thank the following sponsors and suppliers for their partner, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project:  Whelen Engineering, PPG, Columbia Sportswear, JEGS Automotive, Lucas Oil, Mac Tools, EXA, Lumber Liquidators, Lincoln Electronics and Racing Electronics.  For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org/.

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