Listening and Talking to an Olympian

Noelle Pikus-PaceToday was really awesome! At our 2nd day of my company’s technology conference, we got to listen to Noelle Pikus-Pace, a silver medalist in this year’s 2014 Olympics. She shared her story of how much work she put in, how her leg got smashed, and how she came back to win the silver medal this year in the Skeleton Bob Sled race. She was very energetic and I got to talk to her for a minute afterwards and get a picture. I want to share what I learned from her.



Noelle shared how she got very specific with her goals for her Olympic experience. She would focus on how she needed to do the turns on the race course, how she needed to hold her body in the right position. And after each run, she would write down how she did and if she succeeded.

If she succeeded, then she would move on to new goals, otherwise she would try again. I think that’s pretty cool – to actually take the time to write down some goals and work toward them. And she worked so hard every day just for the chance to win an Olympic medal in the race. That’s very inspiring to me.


Noelle had an experience a number of years ago where she was unaware of a bob sled coming on the track. A bob sled is a 1,400 pound sled that holds a few people. In her case, she saw it coming and wasn’t able to get out of the way fast enough in time and the sled hit her leg, breaking it and having the bone stick out.

That’s pretty scary stuff right there. And this was as she was favored to win the gold medal in the 2006 Olympics. She could have given up, but she said she received some very good advice about how to move forward with her challenge – to dwell on it, or to move forward. She chose to move forward, even with a metal rod in her leg now.


Noelle talked about racing in the Olympics this year (2014) and how she was racing for the medal. All of the U.S. fans were gone and she was racing to pass one of the Russian racers. She felt herself get nervous and her heart rate increase a little.

But she took the time to focus on what she had been practicing over and over and what she needed to do. She got on the sled, focused, and then won the silver medal. I’m sure it was hard to focus with all the cameras on her, but she was able to do it.


Noelle talked about how she was content with the experience she’s had now in her life with the Olympics. She has herniated disc’s in her neck and lower back from her injuries. I know how that feels as I ruptured my lowest disc in my spine. She also has a rod in her leg. Yet she continues to speak optimistically and is very happy.

This is a good lesson. When there’s hard things that hit you, to just remain content and enjoy the experience. I feel very spoiled actually in my life because I’ve had hard things happen, but they haven’t really been hard. A few injuries and difficult situations are nothing compared to what some people go through.

My resolve is to be more content and happy (even more than I already am) with all that I have. I really am very lucky.

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