With skeleton training runs underway, Katie Uhlaender looking strong

Sep 25, 2017; Park City, UT, USA; Team USA skeleton hopeful Katie Uhlaender poses for a photo during the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team media summit at the Grand Summit Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado’s Katie Uhlaender arrived at her fourth Winter Olympics ready to have some fun. Ranked 12th overall out of 34 women in the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation standings, Uhlaender is trying to smile at this year’s games. That’s been hard to do over the past few years.

Uhlaender finished fourth in the 2014 Sochi Games, and for a period of time thought she had earned a bronze medal when the third-place finisher was stripped of her medal for doping. However, a recent ruling to reverse that decision means Uhlaender is still in search of that elusive first medal.

In the midst of turmoil in the sliding world, Uhlaender said in an interview with NBC Sports that regardless of the decisions of the IOC she will simply focus on what’s most important and why she keeps coming back to skeleton — “because it’s fun and I love sliding.”

Women’s skeleton kicked off Monday in PyeongChang with the first two of six training runs; the next two are scheduled for Tuesday. In her first training run Uhlaender finished eighth overall with a time of 53.05, .70 seconds off the top run that round. She improved the second time around, finishing third with a time of 52.68, just .23 seconds off the pace.

Uhlaender has four more training heats before actual competition to fine-tune her run and keep improving her time. A top-six finish isn’t out of the question and it would not be a surprise to see the veteran slider standing on the podium at the end of competition.

With a free-spirited mentality, Uhlaender is only focused on one thing — having fun. Feeling no pressure, she could be having a little more fun Feb. 17 with a great performance like the sliding world knows she can produce.

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