Meet the athletes

Noelle Pikus-Pace prepared for her medal unlike any other Olympian

Feb. 15, 2014 at 11:12 AM ET

Noelle Pikus-Pace prepared for her silver medal-winning skeleton race unlike any other Olympian.

"I changed a poopy diaper," she told TODAY.com of the night before her event. "And I sang some songs to my kids and helped put them to bed."

Image: Noelle Pikus-Pace
Scott Halleran / Getty Images
Noelle Pikus-Pace and her family in the Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia on Feb. 3, 2014.

Noelle is staying in Sochi with her husband of 11 years, Janson, and her two kids: Lacee, 6, and Traycen, 2. They're integral parts of her unlikely return to the sport and path to Sochi, and she says sticking to her family routine helps her compete.

"I am first and foremost a mom. If I'm outside of that element, I feel like something is wrong," she said. "I like to have a little bit of chaos going on around me so I can stay focused."

They've been by her side in competitions around the world, and even a barricade couldn't stop her from celebrating her Olympic success with them.

WATCH: Noelle Pikus-Pace celebrates in the stands, chats with Meredith Vieira

The lead up to that moment was fairly restless for Noelle. She didn't sleep soundly, remembering she checked the clock at 4 a.m., 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. "I just kept waking up all through the night, thinking, 'Is it time yet? Is it time yet?'" 

Watch on TODAY: Pikus-Pace completes comeback, joins Lester with family

She rolled out of bed at 6 a.m., ate a bowl of cereal and relaxed during the day — even trying to steal a nap.

Image: Noelle Pikus-Pace
Noelle Pikus-Pace
Noelle couldn't nap before her big race, but that didn't stop her son Traycen.

"I laid down on my bed, and both of my kids fell asleep in my arms," she said. "But I couldn't sleep — my mind was just racing." 

She credited a quote from "Home Alone" that calmed her nerves before her event.

"My husband always says to me, 'This is it, don't get scared now.' It's from 'Home Alone,' of all things." 

It must have worked. "It just lightens me up. I always do better when I'm not so serious," Noelle said. "He gave me a big hug and then said, 'Go out there and do your best.' That was all I needed to hear."

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