Just six months after deciding to return, Pikus-Pace has raised enough money to have her husband and two small children travel with her on the World Cup circuit her personal requirement to return to the harrowing, head-first-and-face-down sliding sport in which she finished fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
With the strong finish on Friday, it's clear that Pikus-Pace will be a strong medal contender at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia, where it's hard to forecast a clear-cut favorite. Different women have won each of the four World Cup races so far this season.
"The entire run I just thought, 'Be as aerodynamic as possible,' doubting I was even going to get a second run," Pikus-Pace said. "When I was within medal position at the finish, I thought, 'Wow, I still have a shot.' I couldn't believe it."
The former Mountain View High School and Utah Valley University standout didn't think she would qualify for the second run because her sled popped out of the start groove and bumped into the wall before the first corner.
Nevertheless, she was in fourth place after the first run the top 20 earn a second just 0.04 seconds out of third. She made up the time in the second run, finishing with a combined time of 1 minute, 57.40 seconds.
"I still can't believe it," she said. "I just wish I could go back and do that start in the first run again, but it leaves me wanting more for the next race."
Rudman shattered the track record by more than a half-second in her second run, clocking 58.06 seconds for a two-run total of 1:56.30. Huber clocked 1:57.29 for second, while American Katie Uhlaender also popped out of the groove at the start and missed qualifying for a second run by finishing just 21st in the first.