For most Olympic athletes, getting to the games would be impossible without their families. The love and support they get from parents allow them to make their Olympic dreams come true.
But for US skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace, her inspiration comes from a different generation altogether.
“A lot of people think it’s kind of chaotic to be out here having to train, having to work out, having to slide and then change a poopy diaper, getting cereal, getting all these things for the family. For me it’s just a good distraction,” said Pikus-Pace, a mother to six-year-old Laycee and two-year-old Trayson.
Pikus-Pace struggled with balancing work and home life. After her fourth place finish at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, she decided to retire.
“I didn’t retire because I couldn’t do the sport anymore. I didn’t retire because I was injured or I wasn’t competing well. I retired because I wanted to be at home with my family,” she said.
She decided to make a comeback this year at Sochi under the condition that she could travel with her family.
Not only does she get to be around loved ones, but she also gets help when she needs it.
“She needs her time to focus and watch video and prepare sled and stuff and it’s in those times that she needs to be alone. It’s easy for me to take the kids and put on a movie or go for a walk or do something outside so she can have her time and then we’re there when she needs it,” said husband Janson Pace.
One of those times is at the starting gate.
“This is my time. This is it. Everything’s right. I’ve never felt like this before,” she said.
“This season I’ve won quite a few golds, silvers, bronze, so now the expectation not only from everyone else but from myself is to be on that podium. I don’t think that’s a long shot for me. I’m here for one reason and that’s it.”