Photo from Pampers / Getty Images
For many, the journey to the Olympic games is a long and difficult one, and for Mormon Olympian Noelle Pikus Pace, that story is no different. Her first shot at the winter games should have come in 2006, when she was favorite to win gold, but an unfortunate accident where another racer's bobsled flew off the track and struck her, breaking her leg, prevented her from competing.
Undetered, she got back on the track, and in 2010, Pace competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics, on a sled that her husband built, and was the top U.S finisher. She placed 4th. Just one-tenth of a second out of the medals.
Pace retired after the Olympics to spend more time with her family. She and her husband, Janson, had a baby boy named Traycen in 2011.
But in the summer of 2012, Pace decided that she would give it one last try to earn an Olympic Medal, if their family could all travel together. They raised enough money in her 2012-13 season to make it happen and Noelle had her best results ever: she won 16 national and international medals including 10 gold medals, 4 silvers, and 2 bronze. She finished the season ranked 3rd in the world.
We sat down and had a quick chat with this inspiring LDS Olympian and devoted mother to find out a little more about what motivates her to go for gold:
What inspired you to try bobsledding and skeleton sliding?
When I was in high school, there was a morning announcement about sliding. So I contacted my track coach and the rest is history.
Between bobsled and skeleton, which is your favorite?
When I first started I wanted only to do bobsled, but after making the switch I wouldn't change the way it is now. I love skeleton.
What made you decide to come out of retirement and compete in the 2014 Sochi Games?
My husband Janson and I felt that if we could travel together as a family we could show the strength of family unity and at the same time create the best circumstances for me to compete in.
What is the best part about having your family travel all over the world with you?
I don't miss a thing in their lives. We'll have this experience with each other for the rest of our lives. I have been traveling to these places for the past 12 years without them, so it is neat to share with them where I have been and how great these places are that I get to travel to.
Are your kids aware their mom is a world-class athlete?
They know I compete and they get excited when I bring home a necklace (a medal), but I don't think they truly understand what is happening and how big this really is. In fact, on a day to day basis, they are with me shopping for groceries or Pampers at Babies'R'Us and I’m just “mom.”
What sort of missionary experiences have you had throughout your career?
I cross paths with people everywhere I go and have shared many copies of the Book of Mormon. I have had great conversations and met people from many walks of life, but the greatest experiences that I have seem to be with the youth. I love the youth and want them to know that they can do anything with their individual talents by keeping true to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Being in a position to represent my family, my community, my country, and my religion.
What is the most important lesson your athletic career has taught you?
You need to have goals and determination in order to succeed. It's through the daily goals and tasks that you become who you want to be. Work on one or two things at a time and that is how you become better.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
That my priorities should be: God, family, church and then everything else after that. I have learned that when I put my faith and trust in God, first and foremost, everything else falls into place. This doesn't mean that it will always be easy, but I will have the strength to make it through any trials or difficulties that come my way.
Watch Noelle Pikus Pace compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics February 13th and 14th on NBC.