Noelle Pikus-PaceWinner Noelle Pikus-Pace from the United States celebrates after the women’s Skeleton World Cup race in Koenigssee, Germany, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Courtesy of teamusa.org

Koenigssee, Germany (Jan. 11, 2013) – Noelle Pikus-Pace (Orem, Utah) captured her first World Cup gold medal since 2004 in Koenigssee’s women’s skeleton race today. The last time she climbed to the top spot on the podium was nine years ago during the World Cup race in Sigulda, Latvia. Pikus-Pace earned five medals that season en route to securing the overall title.

“It’s been so long since I’ve won a World Cup race that I’m having a tough time accepting it,” Pikus-Pace said. “It seems surreal. One of my regrets looking back was that I didn’t enjoy the moment enough when I was winning. So I’m going to let myself enjoy this win for the weekend before looking ahead to the next race.”

Pikus-Pace’s victory also means she has a chance of winning the new Triple Trophy. The international federation will award an athlete in all five disciplines a jackpot of 100,000 euros for winning all three races in Koenigssee, Igls, Austria and Sochi, Russia. Pikus-Pace is no stranger to paving the way. She won the first-ever World Cup and World Championship titles for the U.S. women, and might be on her way to securing the first-ever Triple Trophy.

“It’s insane,” Pikus-Pace said. “I didn’t even know about the trophy until after I won and someone mentioned it. I honestly don’t want to think about it. I just need to take it one curve at a time, and one race at a time.”

Pikus-Pace trailed Canadian Sarah Reid by 0.03 seconds after the first run, and the final results were unpredictable as snow continued to fall throughout the competition. Pikus-Pace said she knew that “anything could happen,” and focused only on her run.

Pikus-Pace was on a mission. She clocked blistering speeds down the course for a combined time of 1:47.51 and reached out to high-five her teammates and coaches as she slid to the finish dock, knowing she could finish no worse than second place. Pikus-Pace waited at the finish as Reid descended the course, and looked bewildered as her time trumped the field by 0.41 seconds.

“It felt incredible,” Pikus-Pace said. “It was so good to hear the national anthem played, especially on foreign soil. It’s all coming together, and I can’t thank our supporters enough for helping us make this happen; the coaches, our family, our friends, everyone. I am so much more relaxed this season than ever before because of their help.”

Marion Thees from Germany laid down a speedy second run to move her into silver medal position with a total time of 1:47.92. Hometown athlete Anja Huber trailed her teammate by 0.11 seconds for third.

Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) had the unfortunate luck of a number one draw in wintry conditions today. Uhlaender was first off the line and set the pace with a run of 54.90 seconds and wound up in 11th position. She improved her time by 0.85 seconds in the second heat to move up two spots into ninth with a total time of 1:48.95.

Check your local listings to watch coverage of the events on Universal Sports, or visit http://www.universalsports.com for race highlights.

Results:

1. Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA) 1:47.51 (54.17, 53.34); 2. Marion Thees (GER) 1:47.92 (54.29, 53.63); 3. Anja Huber (GER) 1:48.03 (54.47, 53.56);…9. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 1:48.95 (54.90, 54.05);