LAYTON – Noelle Pikus-Pace has a way of making everybody feel important.
The students wanting to hold the silver medal she won for her skeleton race at the Sochi Olympics last month, the parents wanting to ask her about what it’s like in Russia, the athletes wanting to throw high-fives and the crowds in the stands wanting to take “selfies” with her, all got enthusiastic responses from the athlete.
Pikus-Pace visited Northridge High on Monday morning in a promotion sponsored by Kellogg’s to bring attention to child hunger and the need to begin the day with a good breakfast.
She first met over breakfast with student leaders and athletes, then in an assembly that featured a mini-skeleton track and student and teacher competitors.
“I hope kids in high school Р and all kids – know their potential is limitless,” she said. “With hard work and dedication they can make their dreams come true.”
She called her Olympic experience “beyond words,” and said with her hard work and sacrifice, she couldn’t imagine a better ending.
She answered questions about when she started, how she trains and what her top speed is.
Students learned she began bobsledding at 15 and skeleton racing at 17. She trains by sprinting and lifting dead weights, much like those in track, and has gone 91 miles per hour down the track.
In a short video, students learned of her injury in 2006 that resulted in a broken leg and could have ended her career.
Instead, she was up and competing – and winning – just a year later.
“The fact that she came back and did so well when most people, especially with a family, wouldn’t even consider coming back, is awesome,” said Morgan Macrum, a student at the breakfast event.
“She worked so hard,” said Braden Embley. “She was so dedicated to her sport, it makes me want to be better.”
“I thought it was really neat, especially to see how humble she was about it,” said Holly Arnold, a student at Northridge. “I love how it was her job, but she still focused on her family life.
“She showed dedication beyond all belief,” Arnold said, “and the importance of going for what you want in life Р definitely don’t let anything get in the way of achieving your goals.”