IBSF Bob & Skeleton World Championship 2013 - Day 8

Pikus-Pace winning again with family by her side

Leave a comment

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.”

Aliya Mustafina off Russia’s World Gymnastics Championships team

Aliya Mustafina
Leave a comment

Top Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina withdrew from the World Gymnastics Championships after being set back by injuries this summer, according to the Russian news agency TASS.

Mustafina’s place on the Russian team wavered in September as she tried to overcome health issues, most notably a back injury.

She was included on an original team of seven athletes — of which one would have to be an alternate — on Sept. 23 after being quoted by Russian media earlier in the month saying she would miss the World Championships in Glasgow in the last week of October.

Mustafina, 21, won all-around medals at the 2010 World Championships (gold), 2012 Olympics (bronze) and 2013 World Championships (bronze) and was fourth in 2014 while dealing with health problems.

Mustafina has been a stalwart in the Russian program. With her, the Russian team took silver behind the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics and bronze at the 2014 World Championships.

The seven-woman Russian team for Worlds includes Viktoria KomovaMaria Paseka and Ksenia Afanasyeva, 2012 Olympians who missed the 2013 and 2014 Worlds. Komova took all-around silver at the 2011 Worlds (behind Jordyn Wieber) and the 2012 Olympics (behind Gabby Douglas)

The new Russian star may be Daria Spiridonova, who won the Russian Cup all-around earlier this month and was also put on the seven-woman team for Glasgow.

MORE GYMNASTICS: Fierce Five member to miss World Championships

Usain Bolt beaten in race by boy YouTube sensation on Ellen

Usain Bolt
Leave a comment

Usain Bolt wasn’t dressed to race, but he took up a challenge from an unlikely opponent at The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday.

The six-time Olympic champion went on the show as part of a Los Angeles visit, three days after he partied at Oktoberfest in Munich for a third straight year. Also Tuesday, Bolt met with USC sprinter Andre De Grasse, who shared bronze in the World Championships 100m behind the gold medalist Bolt in Beijing on Aug. 23.

On Ellen, Demarjay Smith, an 8-year-old YouTube sensation for his videos as a personal trainer, said he could beat Bolt in a race. Watch the segment here.

“100 percent,” the Bronx boy said. “Trust me.”

Then Ellen brought Bolt out from off stage, all three of them did push-ups together and then headed to a parking lot for a race.

“Come on, Usain, don’t be scared of me,” the kid said.

Bolt, wearing jeans, did not back down, even though the starting blocks were positioned backwards. Smith clearly false-started, but Bolt didn’t call it back.

They sprinted for about 15 seconds, with Bolt unable to catch Smith and pulling up before the finish line, holding the back of his right leg.

“I got cramps,” Bolt said. “You got lucky, man. I want a rematch, though.”

Also on Ellen, Bolt talked about training for his last Olympics and that he’s considered moving into acting after his planned 2017 retirement. Watch part of that interview here.

MORE BOLT: Bolt receives gift from Segway cameraman

Big deal business.. Check me out tomorrow on @theellenshow

A photo posted by Usain St.Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) on