Uhlaender hopes to crash world skeleton party
SUMMIT COUNTY – Today, Katie Uhlaender will be eating a pie her mom, Karen, prepared this week.
Then, it’s back to the world of 80-mile-per-hour hairpin turns while riding a sled face first down the ice. In this world of skeleton racing, baking is what you do when you fall off the sled and burn your skin on the ice.
As many know already, Uhlaender’s the defending women’s national champion and finished eighth in the junior world championships last season. This year, the Summit High School graduate missed the national World Cup team by .10 seconds and is sitting as the team’s first alternate.
“I’m hoping one of the girls gets pregnant,” she half-joked. “I don’t want anyone to get injured or not do well. But if the married ones get pregnant, I’m taking their stops on the tour.”
For now, she’ll compete in NORAM Cup and Europa Cup events in between raising money and figuring out college plans. She estimated her competition costs this year will reach $10,000 to $15,000.
Had she made the World Cup team, her costs would have been minimized. Uhlaender started the six-race World Cup team qualifier well, but a series of crashes just bumped her outside the top four.
“They were weird crashes,” Uhlaender said. “I swear it was an act of God. It was some kind of divine intervention. On my way down, I rose up on the end of the sled. It feels like you’re flying until you land upside down. Then it feels like road burn for a while.”
Uhlaender trained in Summit County last summer and will head to Canada in December for more competitions.
Meanwhile, Karen supports her daughter by raising money and attending the events she can get to. Pies are nice, Karen said, but the friends who donated plane tickets are the real saviors.
“I’ve used about half her college fund already,” Karen said. “But this has given her direction. She’s just a bull terrier that’s got her teeth sunk into something she likes. She won’t let go.”
Katie’s already attended training camps in Norway this year and has competed in Lake Placid, N.Y. and in Calgary. Uhlaender said her ultimate goal is to land a spot on the 2006 Olympic team. Skeleton racing was an Olympic event at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Uhlaender’s also taking Internet classes at North Country Community College in New York and is looking for a four-year university. She wants to study ethology and develop her skills at nature photography.
With her mom’s help, Katie has founded a nonprofit corporation called Skelomania, which will help her raise money for her career. Any donations are tax deductible.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or send donations to 60 County Road 3080, Parshall, CO 80468.
Ryan Slabaugh can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 257, or at
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