Pikus-Pace wins World Cup skeleton race in St. Moritz
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland — Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States set a track record to finish off a World Cup skeleton victory on Saturday, her third win of the season as she continues to build momentum for the Sochi Olympics.
Pikus-Pace completed two runs in 2 minutes, 19.88 seconds, finishing 0.40 seconds ahead of World Cup leader and top rival Lizzy Yarnold of Britain.
Yarnold has medaled in all six races this season and moved closer to wrapping up the overall points title. She and Pikus-Pace are the only sliders to win on tour this season, each taking three golds. Shelley Rudman of Britain was third, finishing 0.44 seconds back on the course where she won the world title a year ago.
Pikus-Pace won the 2007 world championship at St. Moritz, one of her favorite sliding venues. She was dealing with an elbow injury after a training crash earlier in the week, but seemed to be unaffected on race day.
“I just absolutely love it,” Pikus-Pace said. “It’s been good to have some support here.”
Rudman had a track record in her second heat, and Yarnold put the pressure on Pikus-Pace with a strong second run as well. The last slider to compete, Pikus-Pace’s early split times in her second run had her slightly behind Yarnold, but she found plenty of speed toward the bottom of the long St. Moritz track and wound up winning by a relatively easy margin.
And in the end, she wound up topping Rudman’s track record set only minutes earlier, plus was helped by Yarnold losing a bit of speed toward the finish of her second run.
“Few bumps and scrapes, no harm done,” Yarnold said. “It was a great race.”
Former world and World Cup overall champion Katie Uhlaender of the U.S. was a season-best sixth, wrapping up her runs in 2:20.73. Uhlaender has been dealing with the aftereffects of a preseason concussion that virtually wiped out her training schedule for the World Cup slate, though is expected to enter the Sochi Games as a legitimate contender.
Uhlaender, who didn’t race last weekend in an effort to keep getting stronger after the concussion, moved up to 15th in the World Cup points chase.