Skeleton rider Katie Uhlaender knows what fourth place at the Olympics feels like. For a brief time she thought she knew what third place felt like, but not quite, it turns out. Yet, she’ll have a chance to earn an elusive Olympic medal when she begins competing Friday at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
It’s been an eventful few months for the 33-year-old Uhlaender, who was named to her fourth Olympic team while also waiting to find out if she won a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics. She barely missed a medal in 2014, finishing just 0.04 of a second behind bronze medalist Elena Nikitina of Russia. But Nikitina was stripped of her medal three months ago, as she was thought to have been in involved in Russia’s state-sponsored doping program. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport restored Nikitina’s results two weeks ago.
So Uhlaender competes in South Korea still seeking her first Olympic medal. She’ll be in the running, as her training runs have her times right with the leaders. She told reporters earlier this week that she believes she has her lines set, and she needs to focus on being smoother.
Getting technical, Uhlaender said that is all based on the current temperatures of the ice. She might need to alter her attack if those change — and also pray about it.
“If it gets colder, that’s where I have to take a risk,” Uhlaender told the media. “I feel like if I pray on it and sleep, God will reveal what I should do. I just can’t let my own brain get in the way.”
Uhlaender says God has always played a role in her athletic career, which has largely been focused on skeleton, but has also included stints in weightlifting and track cycling.
“Quitting is never an option, so why would I quit on God?” Uhlaender told the Christian Sports Journal. “He guides me and gives me the strength to keep going.”
Uhlaender’s faith journey began as a child.
“My grandmother, my dad’s mom, was a huge influence on my faith. I went to church with her every Sunday when we visited her in south Texas,” Uhlaender told CSJ. “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.”
The women’s skeleton competition will get underway Friday at 6:20 a.m. ET with each competitor’s first two runs, and then continue Saturday at 6:20 a.m. ET with their third and fourth runs. You can watch Friday’s action here, and Saturday’s action here.
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