Pikus-Pace wraps career in silver lining by finishing second in women's skeleton Olympic race

Feb. 14, 2014, 2:07 p.m. (ET)

Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director
(518) 354-2250, abird@usbsf.com

Pikus-Pace wraps career in silver lining by finishing second in women’s skeleton Olympic race, Uhlaender heartbroken with fourth

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 14, 2014)- Noelle Pikus-Pace (Orem, Utah) wrapped her career in a silver lining after finishing second in the women’s skeleton Olympic competition at the Sanki Sliding Center tonight. Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) was a mere 0.04 seconds from the medals in fourth.

“It is so surreal,” Pikus-Pace said. “This is everything I could have imagined and more, just to have my family here with me and all of the love and support and cheers we’ve had, and all of the trials we’ve had to overcome to come to this moment. This is as good as gold.”

Pikus-Pace was already a World champion, World Cup champion and an Olympian. The only thing missing from her resume was an Olympic medal, which eluded her by one-tenth of a second four years ago in Vancouver. She seemed satisfied to retire after her Olympic runs, to expand her family and move on after a career filled with as many high moments as low. A miscarriage in 2012 inspired her to get back into the sport, and Pikus-Pace has taken her husband, Janson, and two children, Lacee and Tracyen, along for the two-year journey towards the Olympic podium.

She realized her dream tonight after sliding across the finish line with a four-run combined time of 3:53.86.  She was second after the first day of competition, and she held onto her position after the final two runs tonight, 58.25 and 58.28 seconds, to secure the Olympic silver medal.

“It was worth the wait,” Pikus-Pace said. “It was worth every minute of it. Honestly, getting hit by the bobsled, people said, oh man, that’s horrible. Getting fourth at the Olympics, they said ah, too bad. Then I had the miscarriage at 18 weeks, and many tears were shed. But if I hadn’t gone through every single one of those things I could not be here today. And this is right where I want to be, and to have my family here, the love and support, it’s just beyond words. Just beyond words.”

British standout Elizabeth Yarnold extended her overnight lead to 0.97 seconds and claimed gold with a combined time of 3:52.89. Elena Nikitina from Russia clocked a total time of 3:54.30 to claim bronze for the host nation.

Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) was a mere 0.04 seconds from the medals after finishing fourth to Nikitina.  Uhlaender was in fourth heading into the finals, and dropped into fifth after the third run. She threw down the run of her life in the final heat, and gained a position back.  She watched at the finish as Nikitina’s time ran down, and thought she was going to catch her to claim a medal. Nikitina crossed the finish line in medal position, barely edging Uhlaender out.

“I am blown away, it makes me so sad that I couldn’t bring home a medal for my country,” Uhlaender said. “I appreciate the support, I felt the support of everyone at home, and I’m so heartbroken that I lost by four-hundredths for them.”

Wednesday was the anniversary of her father’s death, and even though it’s been five years, Uhlaender still struggles with her loss. Ted Uhlaender was a major league outfielder, and she wears his 1971 Cincinnati Reds National League championship ring and a baseball pendant with some of his ashes on a chain around her neck as she races around the world.

“He made me feel like a warrior,” Uhlaender said. “He made me feel like I have a purpose, and I felt like I lost my way when he passed away.”

It’s been a long road back for Uhlaender, who seemed on top of her game last season but found herself battling back again after suffering a concussion this fall. Known for her resilience after bouncing back from numerous surgeries and injuries over the years, including a shattered kneecap, it was no surprise that she was in the medal hunt.

“I can’t help but wonder what if I hadn’t had that concussion, what if I had slid more, what if my start number was better,” Uhlaender said. “I slid my heart out. There wasn’t anything else I could have done. I am heartbroken.”

The U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation is proud of Pikus-Pace and Uhlaender for representing their country proudly this season and at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director, at abird@usbsf.com or 719-207-5040 with media inquiries.

Heats 1 & 2 results:

1. Elizabeth Yarnold (GBR) 3:52.89 (58.43, 58.46, 57.91, 58.09); 2. Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA) 3:53.86 (58.68, 58.65, 58.25, 58.28); 3. Elena Nikitina (RUS) 3:54.30 (58.48, 58.96, 58.33, 58.53); 4. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 3:54.30 (58.48, 58.96, 58.33, 58.53);

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: BMW of North America, Century 21 Real Estate, CEVA Logistics, 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.