Noelle Pikus-Pace, Katie Uhlaender in women’s skeleton medal position

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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.”

WATCH: Pikus-Pace’s remarkable Olympic journey

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.

Russian pairs skater slices leg in worlds practice, needs 10 stitches (video)

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Russian pairs skater Yevgenia Tarasova needed 10 stitches after her partner’s skate sliced her leg in practice Wednesday.

Hours later, Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov skated to third place in the short program at the world championships in Helsinki.

“We were thinking about withdrawing because after this incident we left the ice immediately, there was a long break off the ice, we didn’t know how I would feel in skates,” Tarasova said afterward. “But when I was asked, ‘Will you skate?’ I said, ‘I will!’ And I wasn’t thinking about the pain during our performance.”

Morozov called her “a hero.”

In Thursday’s free skate, Tarasova and Morozov will be largely tasked with keeping Russia from going three straight years without world championships pairs medalists, which would be the longest drought for Soviet and Russian pairs since their dominance began in the 1960s.

Tarasova and Morozov trail Chinese leaders Sui Wenjing and Han Cong by 1.86 points and second-place Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany by .47.

Another Russian pair is in fifth place going into the free skate (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Full worlds short program results are here.

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MORE: U.S. pairs skater back from life-threatening condition

World Cup champ lands first quad cork 1800 (video)

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Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli landed what’s being touted as the first ski quad cork 1800 in a video published recently.

Ragettli, 18, is one of the leading slopestyle skiers in the world. He won the World Cup season title in 2015-16 and placed second this year, in addition to fifth- and sixth-place finishes at the last two Winter X Games.

Previously, Ragettli became the first slopestyle skier to land back-to-back triples in a full competition at the 2016 Winter X Games, according to ESPN.com.

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