Central Texas native Katie Uhlaender finishes 6th in fifth Olympic run
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Whether it’s hearing stories of her father’s Major League Baseball career or her five trips to the Olympic Games, skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender is no stranger to major sporting events. Saturday’s run at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre may be the last for the McGregor, Texas native- if not one of her favorites.
Skeleton was added the Olympic program in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Unlike luge, competitors are sliding on the ice in a prone position, often with speeds that exceed 75 miles per hour.
Soon after she crossed the finish line in her fourth-and-final run (51.14), the former McGregor Bulldog was all smiles as she was slowing down towards the end of the track. The 37-year-old even held onto the lead for the briefest of moments. However, her cumulative time was eclipsed by racers much faster and younger. Hannah Neise of Germany won gold (4:07.62). Australia’s Jacalyn Narracott took silver (4:08.24) and Kimberly Bos of the Netherlands earned bronze (4:08.46). Katie, who also competed in the previous four Olympics was sixth (4:09.23).
Even more impressive than her trip to the World’s Biggest Stage is the twelve surgeries she’s had in her 19-year career. The closest she came to an Olympic medal was in the Sochi, Russia Olympics of 2014. There, she finished fourth and missed the podium by .04. On NBC’s interviews that briefly followed, Uhlaender was visibly upset after she fell short in a heartbreaking race. That’s year’s bronze medalist Elena Nikitina of host-nation Russia has since been a major subject of investigations surrounding the country’s state-sponsored doping program.
One of the highest points came in the 2012 ISBF World Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she earned two world titles- both individually, and in the mixed team event. One of her closest friends on that aforementioned team was also one of her best friends-the late Steve Holcomb, who lead the United States to bobsled gold in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
As mentioned earlier, Katie grew up in an athletic family. From 1965 to 1972, her father, the late Ted Uhlaender, was a major league outfielder for the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, and Cincinnati Reds. Before she discovered skeleton, the long-time Olympian was a track and basketball star at McGregor High School.
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