Uhlaender ready for second WC stop
If you ask Breckenridge’s Katie Uhlaender where she spent the month preceding the skeleton World Cup season, there’s a good chance she won’t tell you.But it’s not the reigning World Cup champion’s fault – she’s bound to confidentiality as a camera crew member for the reality television show Survivor.”It’s definitely on some island on the other side of the world,” was as specific as Uhlaender would get during a recent phone interview. “I knew the risks involved with (missing valuable preseason training on ice) and I accepted those risks just for this season,” she said. “The next three years I won’t focus on anything more than being the best slider in the world.” (Uhlaender, who took sixth at the 2006 Turin Olympics, will try to improve on the result at the 2010 games in Vancouver.)As for this fall, it seemed to make sense for Uhlaender to get away for a while and pursue a future career possibility.
It was actually the 23-year-old’s second stint on the reality show – last summer she spent 10 weeks working as a “Dream Teamer,” she said, which entailed testing the challenges that actual contestants would go through.”You’ve got to give that show credit,” she said. “It definitely gives participants a different perspective on life. … I would have done half of that job for free.”This fall, Uhlaender worked under an accomplished cameraman doing everything from “filming contestants, to cleaning lenses to straightening gear,” she said.It was a valuable experience for an athlete who has writing, producing, filming and directing aspirations.Uhlaender got about two weeks of what she described as on-and-off-the-ice time before the hiatus and she was back in time for the World Cup season opener on Nov. 29 in Calgary, Alberta, where she finished seventh as the fastest American woman.”I was pretty happy with the result for my first race back,” she said. “At the upcoming races, I’m showing up to thrown down.”
Uhlaender can improve on her seventh-place finish (and the accompanying world ranking) at today’s races in Park City, Utah at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.The U.S. Skeleton Team’s head coach Orvie Garrett isn’t worried about the training time the World Cup champ lost while working on a remote island because of her strong work ethic.”She gets to the hill and digs down for everything she can,” Garrett said. “If she can take 10 runs, she’ll take 10 runs. Some people like to take two or three and reflect.””The only way to acclimate to chaos is to surround yourself with it”, said Uhlaender, who can slide as fast as 80 mph. “The repetition of sliding is the best training.If Garrett wasn’t comfortable with Uhlaender’s ability to play catch-up, he wouldn’t have helped her get a waiver onto the U.S. team from the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.Typically one U.S. man and one U.S. woman receive waivers onto the team – the top finishers at the World Championships. Noelle Pikus-Pace won the world champs, but she’s taking the season off due to pregnancy, which left her bye up for grabs.
Uhlaender, who was third at last winter’s World Championships in St. Moritz Switzerland, was granted the waiver, exempting her from team trials.She is currently one of six men and women on the U.S. World Cup team, which also includes Annie O’Shea and Courtney Yamada as well as Eric Bernotas, Zach Lund and Caleb Smith.The men’s team competes today at 1 p.m.Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at email@example.com.
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