After today’s first two runs of women’s skeleton, the U.S. combo of former world champions Noelle Pikus-Pace (pictured) and Katie Uhlaender are toward the front of the field.
Pikus-Pace is second behind her main World Cup circuit rival, Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold, by just .44 of a second, while Uhlaender is fourth at just .14 of a second off of the bronze position that’s currently occupied by Russia’s Elena Nikitina (+.55 seconds).
Going into Sochi, Pikus-Pace’s best Olympic finish was a fourth four years ago at Vancouver; Uhlaender’s was a sixth at Torino in 2006.
“That would be a dream come true if Katie and I could both be up on that podium together, to have two U.S. flags flying and waving in the wind,” Pikus-Pace said in a team release. “That would be absolutely incredible.”
The Russians were at the center of a protest of Thursday’s results that was filed by Australian officials. The home team was accused by the Australians of having an unfair advantage by using a push track that wasn’t open to all nations before the race. However, the protest was denied.
Yarnold is looking to defend Great Britain’s skeleton gold from Vancouver four years ago, which was won by her own landlord, Amy Williams. It was the first Winter Olympic individual gold for Great Britain in 30 years.
In Run 1, Yarnold built up a lead of one quarter-second, and then tacked on .19 of a second more in Run 2.
Nikitina – who surely benefits from the knowledge she’s gained about her home track leading up to the Olympics – actually bested Pikus-Pace for second in Run 1 before the American moved back into P2 behind Yarnold.
The women’s skeleton competition concludes tomorrow, with action beginning at 10:20 a.m. ET.