Noelle Pikus-Pace completed an improbable comeback on Feb. 14 by capturing silver in the women's skeleton finals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Taking the gold was Pikus-Pace's chief rival Elizabeth Yarnold of Great Britain, while upstart Elena Nikitina of Russia narrowly edged Team USA's Katie Uhlaender for the bronze.
Pikus-Pace, 31, found herself trailing Yarnold by .44 second after two of four runs. Yarnold's third run time of 57.91 set a new track record, increasing her lead over second-place Pikus-Pace to .78 second, and her gold medal-worthy cumulative time of 3:52.89 was the field's best by nearly an entire second.
Although she did not win gold, Pikus-Pace's silver medal completes an incredible comeback story that began shortly after she retired from the sport following a disappointing fourth place finish at the 2014 Vancouver Olympics. The tragic loss of her third child to miscarriage compelled her to give skeleton another go, and her family-first attitude gave her strength while impressing those around her, including Olympic bobsledder Nick Cunningham, who on Feb. 10 praised her ever-present smile and called her "amazing" and "a true competitor."
A tweet posted by Pikus-Pace shortly before her final run, which she called the last of her career, sums up her light-hearted spirit. Quoting the classic Christmas movie "Home Alone," she posted a photo of a sheet of paper that simply read "This is it. Don't get scared now."
Skeleton action from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi continues Feb. 15 with the final two runs of the men's competition, featuring Americans John Daly, Matt Antoine, and Kyle Tress.