NORMAN — U.S. Olympian luge athlete Kate Hansen cried, laughed and got mad as she told people about her journey to becoming a participant in the Sochi Olympics and how her faith got her through it.
Hansen delivered a public devotional Sunday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, describing how she became a luge athlete and the obstacles she overcame before placing 10th in the women’s single luge at the Winter Olympics.
“Kids never grow up wanting to be a professional sledder,” Hansen said, talking about how recruiters found her in Long Beach, Calif. during an open call for all kids. “I originally loved it because I got out of school.”
She began at the age of 10, learning about the sport and training. Five years later she was asked to travel to Europe and compete. The Christmas before she became the youngest U.S. junior luge World Champion she said she had listed her goals and decided after that year she was going to quit.
“At that age I didn’t know what I wanted, a boyfriend?” Hansen said with a laugh.
That season she ended up winning every race she was in. It wasn’t in the plan, but after she became a world champ she decided it wasn’t up to her anymore.
“I realized it was bigger than me,” she said. “I realized this was going to be my 10 year mission call to the world.”
As she continued her training and competing, she went through injuries and getting “hung out to dry” by coaches when equipment slowed her down. At one point she broke her back on the Vancouver Olympic track with three hairline fractures, but she later got the opportunity to race the Olympic trials in Vancouver as a senior in high school.