In PyeongChang, South Korea, Katie Uhlaender, 33, will be the the first American to race the skeleton four times in the history of the sport at the Winter Olympics.
With bright red hair and a big smile, Katie lies face down on a sled and speeds down an icy track at 80 miles an hour in a sport that most describe as “insane.” Katie describes the skeleton:
It is all about letting go and finding speed by generating momentum with your body. It’s no different than racecar driving except our bodies are the suspension, which brings a few more unknown variables to the naked eye.
Katie credits her father, former Cincinnati Reds outfielder, Ted Uhlaender, as her role model and inspiration behind her love of sport. She’s a versatile athlete who played baseball, softball, golf, skiing, and powerlifting before she tried the skeleton. “Being an Olympian,” says,
is a huge honor. It represents something that I have had to work extremely hard for and the biggest honor is representing my country. I take a huge amount of pride in that.
Katie has strong ties to Colorado, but she grew up in McGregor, Texas. Her father’s mother influenced her faith when she was younger and she went to church with her in south Texas. She says:
I went to church with her every Sunday when we visited her in south Texas. So I started to go on my own as many days as I could because the church youth groups were a ton of fun for me. The Lord plays a huge role in my life. I am on the path He wants me to be on.
Her faith has helped her through adversity. She missed winning the bronze medal in 2014 in Sochi by one four hundredth of a second. Katie credits her faith in helping her through adversity, has bright red hair and on her helmet is the American Eagle.
In Sochi in 2014, Katie missed winning the bronze twice. First, by clocking in at only four-hundredths of a second behind Russia’s Elena Nikitina. Later it was discovered that Nikitina and many others were doping and her medal would be stripped. It seemed like Uhlaender might win it. But she lost it a second time after an international arbitration court controversially overturned the ban on the 28 Russian athletes who were accused of doping. This year, she hopes to medal in her fourth Olympic appearance.When Uhlaender’s father died five years prior to Sochi, she persevered because of her faith. She said,
Quitting is never an option, so why would I quit on God? He guides me and gives me the strength to keep going.
She wears his championship ring to keep him close:
The daughter of the late former Reds outfielder Ted Uhlaender, American skeleton athlete Katie Uhlaender wears his 1972 NLCS Championship ring in his memory. @KatieU11 #PyeongChang2018 #Olympics pic.twitter.com/EVZZdDkgil
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) February 10, 2018
Katie also has class, welcoming and thanking the Vice President and his wife for cheering on Team USA. She tweeted: