Noelle Pikus-Pace

Noelle Pikus-Pace wins skeleton World Cup in Lake Placid

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Noelle Pikus-Pace was untouchable again, cruising to victory in a World Cup skeleton race in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Friday.

The American won in a two-run time of 1 minute, 51.37 seconds, beating Germany’s Anja Huber by .46 of a second. Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold was third. American Katie Uhlaender was 14th.

“In training, I was not doing so hot, so I just took a day off yesterday to really just kind of visualize what I needed to do,” Pikus-Pace said. “I’ve been down this track a lot, so just being able to put it together once piece at a time. It came together today, so I’m really happy with it.”

Pikus-Pace, 31, was also the fastest woman in the previous two races this season in Calgary, Alberta, and Park City, Utah. She was disqualified after winning in Calgary for illegal tape on her sled. She came back in Park City to break the track record — twice — and win by a dominant .68 of a second.

She is the 2007 world champion who finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics and second at the World Championships in February. She briefly retired after the Olympics and had a baby boy.

The last woman to win three straight World Cup races was Uhlaender, who won the first four to start the 2006-07 season.

Uhlaender, recovering from a preseason concussion, hasn’t finished better than 13th in three World Cups. She won the 2012 world title and was third in the World Cup standings last season.

A second women’s skeleton race will go in Lake Placid on Sunday. Universal Sports will have coverage.

Lake Placid Skeleton Race 1
1. Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA) 1:51.37
2. Anja Huber (GER) 1:51.83
3. Lizzy Yarnold (GBR) 1:51.88
14. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 1:52.79

Holcomb stays perfect in Lake Placid

Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
AP
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career