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Olympic hopeful Pikus-Pace has surgery on broken leg

CALGARY, Alberta -- American Noelle Pikus-Pace, a
primary hopeful for the 2006 women's Olympic skeleton team,
underwent surgery on her broken right leg on Thursday.

Pikus-Pace, who was the 2004-05 World Cup champion, suffered a
compound fracture of her lower right leg upon being accidentally
struck by an American four-man bobsled at Calgary Olympic Park
on Wednesday. Both her tibia and fibula were broken.

A titanium rod was inserted to support the bones during the
healing process.

"I'm feeling great and I want to stay positive," Pikus Pace
said. "This is not the end and I'm looking forward to coming
back. All things happen for a reason and I'm still smiling and
having a good time despite the circumstances.

"I am so blessed that only my leg was broken. It could have
been much worse. I would also like to say that I understand the
dangerous aspects of this sport and have no hard feelings
towards the men's bobsled team about what happened."

A native of Urem, Utah, the 22-year-old Pikus-Pace became the
first American woman to win the World Cup overall title with a
bronze medal in Lake Placid, New York in February. She also won
a silver medal in the World Championship that month.

Skeleton -- a head-first version of luge -- will be making its
fourth appearance in an Olympics. After appearing in the 1928
and 1948 Games, it re-emerged as an Olympic sport in the 2002
Games in Salt Lake City.

American Tristan Gale won Olympic gold in women's skeleton in
2002.