Noelle Pikus-Pace claims skeleton silver for U.S.
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States won the silver medal Friday in women’s skeleton at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The Orem, Utah slider finished second on the World Cup tour this season behind Great Britain’s Elizabeth Yarnold, and that’s how it played out again in Russia at the Sanki Sliding Center. Yarnold took the lead in Thursday’s first run and followed with the fastest trips down the track in the next three runs to give Great Britain women’s skeleton gold for the second straight Olympics.
Yarnold held a .44 lead over Pikus-Pace after Thursday’s opening two heats and basically clinched the win Friday’s first run – the third of the race – by setting a track record of 57.91 seconds. Yarnold won with a four-run total of 3 minutes, 52.89 seconds. Pikus-Pace, who is now retiring from skeleton after achieving her goal of medaling at the Olympics, finished runner-up with a 3:53.86 combined time.
The most drama came in the battle for the bronze, and that medal went to Russia’s Elena Nikitina, who edged American Katie Uhlaender by four-hundredths of the second. Nikitina struggled in her final run, which was only the 12th fastest of the heat, but it was good enough. She finished with a 3:54:30 total.
Uhlaender raced consistently in all four heats, including the second run Thursday, which saw her come in with the second-best time behind Yarnold. She stood in fifth place heading into the last run and moved up one spot, finishing with a 3:54:34 total.
There were 20 competitors in the women’s field.
Action kicked off earlier in the day with the opening two runs of the Olympic men’s skeleton, and John Daly of the U.S. got off to quite a start by putting himself in position to medal. With runs of 56.91 and 56.67 and a 1:53.58 combined time, the Long Island native who attended Plattsburgh State University stands in third place heading into today’s third and fourth runs.
Racing on home ice, Russia’s Alexander Tretiakov grabbed the lead with the fastest two runs of the day. He clocked results of 55.95 and 56.04 and a 1:51.99 to jump more than half a second ahead of Martins Dukurs of Latvia. Dukurs is second with a 1:52.55 two-run total.
Matt Antoine of U.S. is in fourth place with a 1:53.84 total, and Russia’s Sergei Chudinov is in fifth with a 1:54.02 combined time.
There are 27 sliders competing in the men’s field.