By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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Yes, these are my necklaces. But not all of them….

It was all about the earrings.

Given that I’m about as skilled athletically as a one-year-old learning to walk (read: not at all), any kind of sporting event isn’t generally my thing. All the sweat and grimacing generated over a competition that usually involves chasing something, throwing something or trying to go really, really fast is reason enough for me to open my laptop and fire up the Spider Solitaire while my husband and kids sit around yelling at the TV.

But the Olympics have almost always been an exception. There’s something about the grandeur of the Olympic spectacle that initially piques my interest. Add the bigger-than-life personalities that go along with the games and I’m glued to the couch for the entire two weeks.

This time around, though, I confess to being more fascinated by the side-by-side Sochi toilets I wrote about last week than pretty much anything going on in the games. Apolo Ohno is strictly behind the camera now, dampening excitement in the speed skating department, “Flying Tomato” (and recently shorn) Shaun White flamed out of his only snowboarding event, coming in fourth (maybe Samson should have waited until after the Olympics to cut his hair), and women’s downhill racer Lindsey Vonn is out of competition this year. (Plus, she’s dating Tiger Woods, which proves she’s none-too-smart, either.)

I was about to go back to solitaire when I saw her.

Noelle Pikus-Pace, careening down one of those insane luge tracks, a singular figure flopped face down on an itty-bitty sled, hurtling down a mile of icy track at speeds of up to 80 m.p.h.

Impressive as that is, it wasn’t what’s made Pikus-Pace my new favorite athlete. It was her earrings.

When the athlete finished her run, clinching a silver medal for the U.S., she took off her helmet, revealing a fabulous pair of oval-shaped, gold-filigreed dangling earrings in a delicate lace pattern.  Did I mention that she just got off a sled going 80 m.p.h.?

I’m a jewelry fanatic. Yes, that picture above is the necklace display board that hangs in my room. And no, they are not all of my necklaces. They’re just the ones that would fit on the board.

Somewhere in my strange little mind, jewelry and athletics never went together. I figured if I had to make a choice, jewelry was going to win. The fact that I have zero athletic ability influenced the decision as well, but it was mostly about the jewelry.

Now Noelle Pikus-Pace has proven that really cool jewelry and competing in athletics aren’t mutually exclusive. (Prediction: Pikus-Pace will be athletics’ new “it” girl. Her pin-up looks along with her adorable kids and loving husband will rightfully yield zillions in endorsements. Pick the college of your choice, kids.)

Now that I know, I wonder if it’s too late for me to become a competitive skeleton sled racer? Actually, just the name of that sounds scary to me. Oh well, even if I never get on a sled, at least I can wear the earrings.

Who is your favorite Sochi athlete? Click “comments” below and share!