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.”

WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET

Fenway Big Air
Fenway Big Air
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Fenway Park will host some of the world’s best snowboarders in the one-of-a-kind Big Air at Fenway, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra on Thursday night.

Snowboard big air riders will descend from a jump that’s four times higher than the Green Monster inside the hallowed Boston Red Sox home.

The finalists include U.S. Olympic slopestyle champion Sage Kotsenburg and women’s Winter X Games champion Spencer O’Brien of Canada. U.S. Olympic slopestyle champion Jamie Anderson was eliminated in earlier qualifying.

Snowboard big air, like slopestyle except riders get one jump per run, will debut at the Olympics at Pyeongchang 2018.

WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET

Big Air at Fenway continues with ski big air Friday at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN and Live Extra.

World Anti-Doping Agency investigates Kenya

Kenya
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The World Anti-Doping Agency says Kenya is being investigated for breaching the global anti-doping code.

WADA says an independent compliance review committee will now evaluate Kenya and make a recommendation to WADA’s board on whether the country should be declared non-compliant with the code.

WADA says it asked Kenyan authorities to show commitment to setting up a national anti-doping agency, but “we have not yet received the details nor the assurances we need from Kenya and, therefore, this is now a matter for our independent compliance process.”

Although being declared non-compliant is unlikely to bring sanctions for athletes, it would be another embarrassment for the East African country, which is under severe scrutiny for its doping record.

WADA expects a decision on Kenya’s status in a few weeks.

MORE: Kenya banned athletes allege doping bribery