Olympian Noelle Pikus-Pace Unafraid to Race

02/26/2010 at 05:00 PM ET

Andrew Southam for PEOPLE for use on CBB

With the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the dangerous nature of many winter Olympic sports was brought to the forefront.

Skeleton racer and mom-of-one Noelle Pikus-Pace, 27, is acutely aware of the risks involved with hurtling down the track — head first! — at speeds up to 80 mph but says that with experience, her fears have lessened.

“If I had just gotten into this sport, I probably would [think it’s too dangerous],” she tells ParentDish.

“When I started I’d come home with bumps, bruises, bleeding … Now I don’t worry. I feel I can get myself out of any dangerous situation on the track.”

After welcoming daughter Lacee Lynne, 2, however Noelle says that her focus at the starting line was elsewhere.

“Last year, I lost the mental side of things,” she confesses.

“I’d stand at the start and think, ‘I miss her. I want to be home.’ I didn’t care about competing. My coaches were pretty frustrated to say the least.”

Since then, Noelle says she’s “worked it out” and was in the right frame of mind for competition this week in Vancouver, where she placed fourth.

“My whole family has put so much into this; I owe them everything,” she explains. “And when Lacee is older, I want her to know I did my best.”

Click below to read about Noelle’s perfectly timed pregnancy and a second photo.

Andrew Southam for PEOPLE for use on CBB

Noelle was unable to race at the Turin Olympics after she was struck by a runaway bobsled in 2005, which left her with a badly broken leg — and the accident disrupted her life in more ways than one.

“I’d planned to retire after the 2006 Olympics, then start a family,” she admits.

“The Olympics has been one of my biggest dreams [and] I wasn’t ready to end things.”

“We had to make sure we timed my pregnancy. Taking the second year off out of the [four-year Olympic cycle] seemed perfect.”

Calling her daughter a “terrific two,” Noelle says that Lacee is “all over the place” and easily confused when visiting mom at the office!

“If she sees anyone dressed in a speed suit or a helmet, she yells, ‘Mommy, Mommy,'” Noelle shares.

Adding that nothing can truly prepare you for motherhood, Noelle says that the experience has been eye-opening.

“I had no idea the time it takes to care for a child. And I had no idea how much I could love somebody. I love my husband, but that’s different.”

Lacee is Noelle’s only child with husband Janson Pace, whom she married in 2002.

Source: ParentDish

FILED UNDER: Exclusive , Kids , News , Parenting

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 6 comments

Electra on

I saw this interview with her, she’s a really positive and nice person, I hope she competes four years from now!

Julianna on

Beautiful mommy and daughter shots! Lacee’s got her mommy’s red hair, I see, it’s very cute. Lacee Pace is quite a mouthful though, isn’t it?

Jillian on

OMG!!! Lacee’s Coat and hat are so adorable!! Please tell us who makes them!! They are a must have!!!

Autumn on

When I heard Noelle’s story about her head-on collision, her skeleton sled vs a bobsled, and that she survived with only a broken leg, is a miracle it and of itself. It’s awesome that she could race again, but to survive is even better. Her daughter is adorable and thuis I wish her and her family all the best for the future. 🙂

Alisa on

“I love my husband, but that’s different.”

Of course it’s different. I get slightly annoyed with people always feeling the need to compare the love for their children and husband.

Luna on

Wow that name is a mouthful. Lacee Lynne is a little hard to say IMO and then Lacee Pace? That’s tough too. Noelle seems like she really loves her kid though.