KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Officially this has not been proclaimed the Christian Niccum farewell tour.
Fellow lugers from around the world haven't showered him with parting gifts at the Sochi Winter Olympics. They haven't given the Woodinville, Wash., resident a rocking chair attached to a toboggan.
But at age 36, with a wife and three small children, with nearly 20 years of international competition already on his resume, Niccum knows the goodbye party isn't far away.
He knows it so very well during his twice-a-day Skype chats with Bobbie Joe and their kids: 5-year-old Hayden, 2-year-old Harley and 18-month-old EmmaJo. They're half a world away in Woodinville, living in the upstairs of his parents house. He's halfway up a Russian mountain range, rooming at the athletes' housing complex.
He misses them dearly.
Niccum left Seattle on Jan. 1 to compete at the World Cup. Since then, he has been to Latvia, France, Germany, Austria and now to the Black Sea coast of Russia.
"It's long, it's hard," he admitted. "I guess during the Opening Ceremonies they saw a little one-second clip; 'There's Daddy!' My wife was at the thrift store the other day and bought a track suit and our 2-year-old was like, 'I'm Daddy, I'm Daddy.'
"When I'm home I try to make up for the time. And I will my whole life when I'm done here. They're the stars."
He's not quite done here yet, though. He has one more chance for Olympic glory, one more chance to be a star himself.
Niccum and partner Jayson Terdiman compete in doubles luge Wednesday. If they are faster than the other U.S. team of Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall, they'll also take part in the team relay on Thursday, an event new to the Winter Games.
"I just want to give it everything that I have," Niccum said. "I want to try every bag of tricks, try to bring it all together, all that I've put into this sport, this dream."