Katie Uhlaender – 2007
Not many would describe a sport in which one guides a tiny bobsled head-first down a steep snow track – at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour – quite the way Katie Uhlaender does. From her upside-down vantage point, skeleton racing is just “relaxed chaos”.
Anyone logging the kind of competitive year Katie enjoyed in 2007 certainly has a different perspective than most of us. After winning four national championships since taking up the sport in 2002 and making the Olympic team in 2006, this Vail native and current Breckenridge resident claimed the 2007 women’s skeleton World Cup crown.
Dominating the 2006-07 World Cup tour and crushing international competition, she captured five gold medals and one silver medallion in eight events. She then followed up with a bronze medal at the 2007 World Championships in San Moritz, Switzerland.
With a mother who was a ski instructor and a father who was a Major League Baseball outfielder and scout, Katie (born in July 1984) learned to ski at age 2. Small wonder she tried every sport she could manage at Summit High School, including basketball, softball, track and powerlifting. She still loves to ski, snowboard and kite board. And this 5 foot-3 racer definitely “craves speed”, as in skeleton.
A bobsledding friend convinced her to try skeleton racing. Eight weeks later, she won her first National Championship and knew then she wanted to go to the Olympics. Katie, in fact, is so dedicated to the Winter Games that she didn’t claim her 2007 Sportswoman of the Year Award in person because she was in Vancouver, B. C. helping to set the skeleton track for the 2010 Olympics.
Determined to be a contender at Vancouver, Katie was also on-pace to reach her goal. In 2008, she was the silver medalist in the women’s skeleton event at the FIBT World Championships, while finishing third on the mixed bobsled skeleton team. She also won her second World Cup women’s skeleton title and moved up to second place in the 2008 World Championships.
Her dad lost his battle with cancer on Feb. 12, 2009, but he’s still Katie’s inspiration. She’s more determined than ever, she says, to live up to to the standards he held for her in life. When her sports career ends, she hopes to blend her writing and photographic skills creatively.