In the Olympics, everything is measurable, and by now, Noelle Pikus-Pace doesn’t need any help running the numbers. The difference between medal and disappointment: exactly one-tenth of a second. The difference between retirement and being one of the world’s top-ranked skeleton racers: one harrowing tragedy. And the difference between the upcoming Sochi Games and her previous two Olympic tries: an unusual and unrelenting support system.
Pikus-Pace, 31, competes in a head-first sport — 80-plus mph, sliding down a sheet of ice — and as she was deciding whether to even take aim at another Olympics, she knew there was only one way to do it: She wanted her family traveling with her, a rarity on the globe-trotting World Cup circuit.