Her name might not sound familiar. Her sport might not even sound familiar. But two-time U.S. skeleton Olympian Katie Uhlaender is setting out to achieve a goal that only nine other Americans have ever accomplished. Read on to find out more about this amazing athlete.
Uhlaender, 25, has been skeleton racing since 2003, just a short amount of time to have come so far. Skeleton racing, also called tobogganing, is a sliding sport where athletes race down a frozen track face down. It’s similar to luge, except the rider is going head first, instead of feet first. It sounds absolutely terrifying to me, but Uhlaender says she “loves the feeling of getting power off the start block.” Riders can experience g-force up to 5g – that’s what Formula One race car drivers get up to! When she says power, she really means it.
In just seven years, Uhlaender has won multiple championships, proving that she is a star athlete. In her first season alone she won both the Junior National and National Championships. But her successes have not come injury-free. She has blown out her ACL, cracked her sternum, and shattered her kneecap, just to name a few. Sledding face first at the speeds these racers get is extremely dangerous (most of us remember Nodar Kumaritashvili, who sadly died in a training run in the last Winter Games).
With the rush of icy wind her face, Uhlaender gets tons of thrills in her current sport. Now she plans to take an arguably calmer approach to her Olympic endeavors. Part of her workout has always included weightlifting, so the athlete is considering trying out for the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team. According to the Associated Press, she says, “I think I can give it a good go.” This event occurs during the Summer Games, so Uhlaender won’t have to sacrifice one sport for another. And if she does make the team, she’ll be one of only nine Americans to ever participate in both the Summer and Winter Games. That’s awesome!
Look for Katie Uhlaender at the 2012 London Games!