While all eyes this week have been on alumnus and former Utah Valley basketball star Ronnie Price, there is another former student that will be competing on the biggest stage in the sports world.
Noelle Pikus-Pace, former Utah Valley track star and current American skeleton racer will be competing in this year’s 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver Canada.
Skeleton, or tobogganing, probably causes more adrenaline to flow through an athlete’s veins than any other sport that is showcased in the Winter Olympics.
Skeleton is a fast downhill sledding sport much like bobsledding or the luge, but the difference is that competitors do not have a team and they go down the icy track head first, during which athletes experience forces up to five Gs.
In 2005, Pikus-Pace graduated from Utah Valley with a bachelor’s degree in community health and physical education. In 2005 she was the Women’s Skeleton World Cup Champion and hoped to qualify for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, but a compound fracture to her leg kept her from doing so.
However the leg did not hold her back, as just 11 weeks after the injury occurred she was back on the “slider.”
In 2007, Noelle went on to win the World Championships by, according to her Web site, the largest margin in history. She broke the track record in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and became the first American woman to obtain the title of World Champion in the sport of skeleton.
She took off the 2007-2008 Skeleton World Cup to have a baby girl and it was announced on Jan. 17 that Pikus-Pace had qualified for the 2010 Winter Olympics.