The color of a medal
On February 15, 2014, Noelle Pikus Pace crossed the finish line of the Sochi Olympic Games, putting an emphatic exclamation point on a 12-year journey of chasing the Olympic podium. Noelle leapt into the stands, into the arms of her husband, in one of the most iconic and heartfelt moments of the XXII Olympic Winter Games.
A standout high school track athlete and native of the Salt Lake City area, Noelle’s track coach suggested she try bobsled. She did, but soon thereafter got on a skeleton sled and fell in love with the high-speed, headfirst rocket-ride down an icy track. Noelle blossomed as a slider and became the best in the world, and was the gold medal favorite for the 2006 Torino Winter Games. With just months to go to the big show, Noelle was severely injured in a training accident. She was hit by a runaway bobsled, suffering a compound leg fracture.Despite a valiant effort to return to sliding in time for the Olympics, she was unable to compete. Her Olympic medal slipped away. Noelle stepped back from the sport and started a family with her husband, Janson. In 2008, they welcomed their daughter, Lacee.
As the 2010 Olympics approached, Noelle got the itch to try again and she embarked on long stints to Europe, leaving behind her husband and baby girl.
By the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Noelle had returned to world-class form and, with Janson and Lacee by her side, took one more shot at Olympic hardware. Heartbreakingly, she missed by one tenth of a second, finishing 4th. She smiled, as she always does, and retired from the sport. In 2011, Noelle and Janson welcomed the birth of their son Traycen, and looked forward to continuing to grow their family.
In the spring of 2012, the couple was devastated by the miscarriage of their third child. Months later, it was Janson who suggested she take one more shot at her place in Olympic history, as a way to heal and move forward as a family. Noelle agreed, but only if he and the kids went with her every step of the way. They would travel the world as a family, with both kids, diapers and toys in tow, and take one last shot at the Olympic podium. The cost and challenges of traveling the skeleton competition circuit were enormous, but they faced every challenge with a smile and as a family. Janson, an engineer by trade, built Noelle’s sled, and on that magic night in Sochi, she rode that sled like a supermom on a mission and won the silver medal.
Finally, at long last, their dream had come true.