WHISTLER, British Columbia - Americans Noelle Pikus-Pace (Orem, Utah) and Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the women's skeleton World Cup race in Whistler Friday.
With her husband and two children waiting for her at the finish, Pikus-Pace descended the Whistler course for the first time since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Pikus-Pace finished just .10 seconds from the medals two years ago before announcing her retirement, and Friday was her first day returning to World Cup racing since making a comeback bid for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
"It feels good to get the first World Cup race out of the way so I can settle my nerves and move forward," Pikus-Pace said. "It feels like a different world. I'm the same person on the sled, but the way I handle competition now is so different."
Pikus-Pace set another personal record this season after posting a push time of 5.04 seconds. The former World Champion is stronger and faster in her comeback, and looked fluid navigating the Olympic course. Pikus-Pace clocked runs of 55.64 and 55.73 seconds for a combined time of 1:51.37 to place sixth. Her daughter, Lacee, and son, Traycen, ran over to embrace mom at the finish.
"There's an entire team of people making my comeback happen," Pikus-Pace said. "There are so many people showing support by cheering me on, donating and providing things so we're able to be here as a family. The coaches have been incredible, and the team is working well together."
Pikus-Pace said the coaches, athletes and trainers gathered together for a Thanksgiving dinner Thursday, and that it was "really neat to have the team come together.
"It's the best team dynamics I've ever seen," Pikus-Pace said.
Uhlaender finished just behind her teammate in seventh position with a total time of 1:51.58. The reigning World Champion posted identical starts of 5.04 seconds for runs of 55.97 and 55.61.
"I didn't set up my sled properly for the first run," Uhlaender said. "During the second heat I found my mistake."
Uhlaender tested equipment earlier this week and said she had trouble finding her rhythm with a new setup. She said she wasn't in her groove Friday and was disappointed finishing outside the medals after winning last week's race in Park City, Utah.
"I wasn't on my game this morning," Uhlaender said. "I was all over the place. The competition is so tough; it could really be anyone's game. I just have to remember that when I have my stuff together, I'm right there in the medal hunt."
Marion Thees from Germany was victorious with a two-run total of 1:50.92. Canadian Sarah Reid, who two weeks ago won the World Cup season-opening race in Lake Placid, was the sole medalist for the host nation after finishing second with a combined time of 1:51.09, while Elizabeth Yarnold clocked a total time of 1:51.17 for third.
Racing continues today with the men's two-man bobsled race at 3 p.m. PST, and the women's bobsled event at 6:30 p.m. Viewers can see the races live by visiting the FIBT YouTube channel.