IBSF Bob & Skeleton World Championship 2013 - Day 8

Pikus-Pace winning again with family by her side

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SOCHI, Russia – American skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace gave new meaning to “Mother Russia” with her win Saturday at the Sochi World Cup, held on the future Olympic track at Sanki Sliding Center. The Utah native has had a blazing comeback season — she retired after finishing fourth at the 2010 Olympics — but she says her success wouldn’t be possible without the support of her family.

With the exception of her trip to Russia, Pikus-Pace has traveled everywhere this season with her husband, Janson, and their two children, daughter Lacee (5) and son Traycen (turns 2 next month), in tow. The 30-year-old reached the podium at five straight World Cups this season, and also won silver at the World Championships last month in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

“Having my family with me has honestly made all the difference in the world,” she says. “I’m happy and just enjoying it. That’s what I attribute [my success] to.”

Pikus-Pace’s triumphant return to skeleton – in which racers slide headfirst down the bobsled track at more that 80 mph – was prompted by an emotional loss: She began to reevaluate her retirement after suffering a miscarriage last April.

“I didn’t feel emotionally or physically ready to get pregnant again,” she says. “It was actually June of last year when [Janson and I] said, ‘Why don’t we try to go for the Olympics one last time? Let’s make this a family affair.’ The only way we’d do this is if our whole family could go with us, because that’s my top priority. I just can’t leave them for months at a time.”

Pikus-Pace admits that balancing everything can take its toll, but she has the support of her coaches and team, as well as the help of her husband, who she says has taken on the role of “Mr. Mom.” The couple makes an effort to document everything, taking photos and videos so that the kids will remember their adventure, which Pikus-Pace says is already making its mark on their daughter.

“Sometimes when I come home from sliding, [Lacee] puts on my speed suit, my helmet, my gloves, and my spikes, and she pretends to run and jump on my sled,” Pikus-Pace says. “Then she just lays there like she’s going down the track and moves her body like I do.”

While Pikus-Pace says that she will support her daughter no matter what, she admits that she would prefer it if Lacee picked up a sport like tennis or softball.

“Something summer-related, so I can cheer her on in the sunshine.”

How to watch Alpine skiing World Cup Soelden on NBC Sports

Mikaela Shiffirn
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Olympic champions Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety open the World Cup Alpine skiing season in Soelden, Austria, this weekend, live on the NBC Sports app.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom gold medalist, faces a field including Swiss World Cup overall champion Lara Gut in the women’s giant slalom Saturday.

The first run is at 4 a.m. ET and the second run at 7 a.m. ET, both live on the NBC Sports app.

Ligety, the Olympic and world giant slalom champion coming back from a torn ACL, looks for his fifth Soelden victory Sunday. He’ll go up against home favorite Marcel Hirscher, the five-time reigning World Cup overall champion.

The first run is at 4 a.m. ET and the second run at 7 a.m. ET, both live on the NBC Sports app.

This weekend’s races open a season that will run through the end of March.  U.S. Olympic champions Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso are expected to make their season debuts later this fall.

The world championships are in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in February. The World Cup Finals, the last races of the season, will be in Aspen, Colo., in March.

Day Coverage Network Time (ET)
Saturday Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 (LIVE) NBC Sports app 4 a.m.
Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 (LIVE) NBC Sports app 7 a.m.
Women’s Giant Slalom Universal HD 3 p.m.
Sunday Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 (LIVE) NBC Sports app 4 a.m.
Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 (LIVE) NBC Sports app 7 a.m.
Men’s Giant Slalom NBCSN 9:30 p.m.

ALPINE SKIING: Men’s preview | Women’s preview

How to watch Skate America on NBC Sports

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 20:  (L-R) Ashley Wagner with silver, Mao Asada of Japan with gold and Elena Radionova of Russia with bronze pose with their medals after the ladies free at Skate America 2013 at the Joe Louis Arena on October 20, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold highlight the field for Skate America, the biggest annual international figure skating competition in the U.S., live on NBC and the NBC Sports app this weekend.

Terry Gannon will be on the call with 1998 Olympic champion Tara Lipinski and two-time U.S. Olympian Johnny Weir.

Competition in Hoffman Estates, Ill., runs from Friday through Sunday. Icenetwork.com will also have live streaming coverage for subscribers.

Wagner, the world silver medalist, and Gold, the U.S. champion, are joined in Chicagoland by three-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan.

The men’s field is led by world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China, Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Shoma Uno of Japan and the last two U.S. champions — Adam Rippon and Jason Brown.

U.S. pairs champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea and ice dance champions Maia and Alex Shibutani are also competing.

Skate America is the first of six events in the Grand Prix series, with top skaters competing twice over six weeks looking to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France, from Dec. 8-11. Six per discipline qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

SKATE AMERICA: Preview | Gold mulled skipping GP | Wagner has 2 years left

The broadcast and streaming schedule is here:

Day Time (ET) Program Network
Friday 8:05 p.m. Women’s Short (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Friday 10 p.m. Pairs Short (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Friday 11 p.m. Women’s Short Universal HD
Saturday 2:05 p.m. Men’s Short (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Saturday 4:30 p.m. Women’s Free (LIVE) NBC, NBC Sports app
Saturday 8 p.m. Short Dance (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Saturday 9:40 p.m. Pairs Free (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Saturday 11:30 p.m. Men’s Short Universal HD
Sunday 12:30 a.m. Pairs Free Universal HD
Sunday 12:30 p.m. Men’s Free (LIVE) NBC, NBC Sports app
Sunday 2:45 p.m. Free Dance (LIVE) Icenetwork.com
Sunday 9 p.m. Free Dance Universal HD
Monday 8 p.m. Women’s, Men’s Free Universal HD

MORE: Full figure skating season broadcast schedule