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Olympic-sized challenges: Parenting and competition meet at the 2014 Games

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28 2014 10:30 p.m. MST

Besides that, the kids get the chance to travel. A lot.

“We will not be home until after the Olympics at the end of February,” Pikus-Pace said. “We’ve been out since the first of October.”

They’ve had plenty of time to master the art of flying and driving 10 hours at a time, of naps and diapering and squeezing in a moment to read a book.

“We roll with the punches,” she said.

As for hotels, it’s not a problem, she added, because “our home is anywhere we’re all together.”

Lovely support

While most of the parenting challenges come from the demands of travel and the pain of separation, some athletes also deal with the worries of those who love them most.

Wise said his wife was a bit worried about the safety of his sport, which requires him to do dangerous tricks in a halfpipe on skis. But he said her understanding of the sport and her faith in his abilities have eased some of those concerns.

“She’s known me for a long time, and I’ve always been a skier,” he said. “I’m not the kind of person who will change for what people want.”

Freeskiers may look like they do crazy tricks on skis, but there is actually a slow, steady build-up to the toughest tricks with which these athletes compete.

For Pikus-Pace’s family, the risk is not hypothetical. In a freak accident during the Olympic trials in 2005, a runaway bobsled smashed into her, shattering her leg and her Olympic dream. She took a year off and started a family, then came back to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Games, where she came in fourth. She retired that year. After she suffered a miscarriage, she revisited and reversed her decision to retire, returning to the sport in 2012. It was her husband’s suggestion that she reconsider retirement.

The plan is not, however, to forever raise the children on the side of the runs where Mommy competes.

“We do not plan to do this far into the future. We are doing it now,” she said. “Our plan is to raise a strong family.”

Despite deep dedication to their respective sports, these athletes acknowledge family comes first.

Wise said having a family hasn’t changed his professional goals at all, but it has redefined him.

“Really, for me, it’s sort of taken the pressure off,” he said. “I don’t have to define myself by winning or losing. I’m a father and a husband first and foremost.”

The knowledge that, win or lose, his family supports him brings him a lot of peace, he said.

“I think I’ve been more innovative since she was born than I did before. It’s just another aspect of life. I’m not the kind of person to live in fear, to worry about crashing or falling. I try to control the things I can control, and I let God control the rest.”

He’s been “blessed and cursed” with a one-track mind, he added.

“My brain only has space for one thing at a time,” Wise said. “When I’m in the pipe, I’m focused on laying down my best. When I’m being a dad and a husband, I’m equally devoted to that. ... I don’t let things distract me easily.”

Email: lois@deseretnews.com

Twitter: Loisco

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