The U.S. Olympic Committee unsuccessfully tried for a second women's skeleton start position for next month's Torino Games, hoping to get 2005 World Cup overall champion Noelle Pikus-Pace into the field.
Based on this year's World Cup performances, the U.S. earned only one spot in the 15-woman Olympic competition and that will be filled by Katie Uhlaender of Breckenridge, Colo. If the American women were among the top three teams in World Cup points on Jan. 15, they'd have been awarded two Olympic spots.
But the Americans were fourth on that date in part because they were without a healthy Pikus-Pace for much of the season. She suffered a compound leg fracture in Calgary, Alberta, back in October when a speeding bobsled crashed into her during a training run.
"We have been advised by the international federation that there is no such process and no additional slots are available," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said. USOC chief executive officer Jim Scherr and chief of sport performance Steve Roush sent the inquiry to the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation. That group's vice president, David Kurtz, said he felt badly for Pikus-Pace, who won three international gold medals last season.
"I think Noelle Pikus-Pace is one of the finest athletes I've met anywhere in the world," Kurtz said. "She's as deserving of being in this Olympics as anyone. But it was clear from the executive committee's review of the entire situation that there was nothing the FIBT could do."
Pikus-Pace competed in four World Cup races this season, although she still hasn't fully recovered from her injury. She is back home in Utah, will not slide in the World Cup finale, and has not responded to requests for comment.