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Post race disqualification robs Pikus-Pace of gold
CALGARY, Canada (Nov. 29, 2013)- Noelle Pikus-Pace (Orem, Utah) proved she’s a threat in the Olympic season after posting the fastest combined time of the women’s skeleton World Cup opener in Calgary, Canada. Unfortunately, Pikus-Pace was disqualified when her sled failed to pass inspection per rule 14.5 following the competition.
“Noelle is devastated,” said Tuffy Latour, U.S. skeleton head coach. “She didn’t violate the spirit of the rule. But I’ll tell you what; this has released the lioness in her. She is going to be on a tear, and I have no doubt she’ll back on the medal stand next week in Park City, Utah.”
The disqualifier was tape, which U.S. assistant coach Zach Lund described as the size of a nickel, on the handle of her sled. Lund said that Pikus-Pace’s sled passed inspection early this week, and no changes were made to the sled in the time between inspection and the race.
“It’s a travesty,” Lund said. “There’s no competitive advantage, and we are really disappointed.”
Pikus-Pace started the race 0.04 seconds from the lead, but she posted her personal best start time, 5.55 seconds, and the fastest finish time of the race, 57.25, in the final heat to take over the lead. The former world champion clocked a total time of 1:54.88 to finish 0.16 seconds ahead of the field.
With the disqualification, runner-up Elizabeth Yarnold from Great Britain moved into the lead with a two-run total of 1:55.04. Elena Nikitina from Russia smashed her own start record by posting a push time of 5.18 seconds in the second heat, and collected a silver medal with a total time of 1:55.29. Australian Michelle Steele clocked a combined time of 1:55.30 and moved into third position.
Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) raced conservative lines and clocked runs of 58.44 and 58.02 seconds for a total time of 1:56.46 for 12th place. She missed most of pre-season sliding after suffering a concussion during training for selection races. Uhlaender had a bye onto the national team, and she was cleared just a couple weeks ago to get back onto her sled. While finishing outside of the top 10 wasn’t how the two-time Olympian wanted to start the season, she’s a champion of overcoming adversity and is expected to be back on the medal stand once she’s fully recovered.
“Personally I’m disappointed in my result,” Uhlaender said. “I’m proud of Noelle, and I hope to be there with her soon. Just waiting for my concussion symptoms to subside. I’ve had a total of ten runs on my sled including the race. Maybe I’m just not as smooth as I will be after getting some time on the ice under my belt.”
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1. Elizabeth Yarnold (GBR) 1:55.04 (57.59, 57.45); 2. Elena Nikitina (RUS) 1:55.28 (57.80, 57.48); 3. Michelle Steele (AUS) 1:55.30 (57.82, 57.48);…12. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 1:56.46 (58.44, 58.02);…DSQ Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA) 1:54.88 (57.63, 57.25);
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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: BMW of North America, Century 21 Real Estate, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Boomerang Carnets, 24 Hour Fitness, KBC Helmets, Eastern European Distribution Company, Azad Watches, Latta USA, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Autism Speaks, Park City Lodging, Inc., EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.