Noelle Pikus-Pace ends retirement

Noelle Pikus-Pace retired from skeleton after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics because she was tired of traveling without her family.

She's ready to slide again -- and this time, she plans to bring her loved ones along for the ride.

The former world skeleton champion is returning to the sport with an eye on the 2014 Sochi Games, telling The Associated Press that she resumed training earlier this year and is lining up sponsors for the next two seasons so she can afford to have her husband and two children travel with her.

"I don't know why, but I absolutely love the Olympics," Pikus-Pace said.

Pikus-Pace was fourth at the Vancouver Games, missing a bronze medal by one-tenth of a second. She failed to qualify for the 2006 Turin Games after her right leg was shattered when a bobsled crashed into her a few months before those Olympics. A desperate comeback attempt -- even before the leg was healed -- fell just short.

After her last race at the Vancouver Games, the 29-year-old Pikus-Pace insisted her retirement was final, even selling much of her equipment. Within months, she began to waver, and friends expected to see her back again.

They were right.

"It's about being able to do this with my family," Pikus-Pace said. "So here we go again."

Deciding to make a run at Sochi is the easy part. Everything else involved in making it happen should be fairly difficult.

For starters, Pikus-Pace said she'll need to raise about $150,000 to defray her costs over the next two seasons, which is where the sponsor push comes into play. And the U.S. will probably have only two spots on the World Cup circuit next season, meaning the Olympic qualifying process might not be as simple as it's been for the Americans in recent years.

"The only way we will even attempt to do this is if we can raise the funds needed to compete," Pikus-Pace wrote in a letter to friends and family.

Her plan for the coming season is to race in the U.S. team trials in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Park City, Utah, this fall, which would only put her on the America's Cup circuit, one stop below the World Cup level. She plans to race in Park City, then in America's Cup competitions at two Canadian tracks -- Calgary and Whistler, the site of the Vancouver Games.

Then in fall 2013, a full season on the World Cup circuit should await -- if she finishes first or second at next year's team trials. From there, the hope to race in Sochi would become more real.

"I just feel like if I have my family with me, then I can do anything," said Pikus-Pace, who lives in Eagle Mountain, Utah. "That's why we've decided to give this another try. I need them with me and we want to do this again."