Noelle Pikus-Pace finishes second, jumps up World Cup skeleton standings

Noelle Pikus-Pace
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Noelle Pikus-Pace‘s risk didn’t pay off, but she continued her climb up the World Cup standings in Winterberg, Germany, on Saturday.

Pikus-Pace finished second to Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold after the two tied for the lead in the opening run. Yarnold won in a two-run time of 1 minute, 58.10 seconds. Pikus-Pace adjusted her race strategy in a tricky part of the track and fell .57 behind after the second run.

“I tried something totally different [in the second run],” Pikus-Pace said in the finish area, where podium finishers receive a glass of Veltins beer in addition to the customary bouquet. “It still didn’t work for me. Overall I’m really happy. It’s a great start to the second half.”

Pikus-Pace finished on the podium for the fourth straight World Cup race after her season-opening disqualification for having too much tape on her sled handles. She jumped from fourth to second in the World Cup standings, the best indication of Sochi medal prospects.

She only trails Yarnold, who has finished on the podium in every race this season. Yarnold, who slid while the James Bond theme played on speakers at the Winterberg track, leads by a comfortable 225 points and is likely to win the season title with three races to go.

Pikus-Pace finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics, retired, gave birth to her second child and came out of retirement for last season.

“I was a little cloudy coming back to training after the holiday break and had some trouble getting back into it,” Pikus-Pace said, according to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. “It really is a relief to have a podium finish to get second half started. Second half feels different than first half, it always has. I know I have to rejuvenate and I have to start second half with a fresh perspective as if it’s a new season.”

American Annie O’Shea subbed in for 2012 world champion Katie Uhlaender, who took a planned break this week. O’Shea finished 16th in her World Cup season debut.

The skeleton World Cup continues in St. Moritz, Switzerland, next week.

Winterberg Women’s Skeleton
1. Lizzy Yarnold (GBR) 1:57.53
2. Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA) 1:58.10
3. Sarah Reid (CAN) 1:58.49
16. Annie O’Shea (USA) 1:59.77

Video: Holcomb crashes in four-man bobsled