The Olympics are an international spectacle that give countries the opportunity to present their best and most athletic citizens in competition. As the 2012 Summer Olympics loom nearer, millions of people prepare to cheer on their country from July 27 to Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Always an exciting time, the Summer 2012 Olympics will be no different. But BYU sophomore Kate Hansen looks even further down the road to the 2014 Winter Olympics, in which she hopes to participate as a member of the luge team.
Currently training in Lake Placid, N.Y., with the junior team, Hansen is kept busy daily: waking up early, sliding, watching videos of herself sliding and weight lifting.
Hansen is no joke; she has a hefty luge past, laden with many awards. She was the 2008 Verizon U.S. Junior national champion, finishing 13th in the 2009 women’s singles World Cup and was a bronze medalist of the 2010 women’s singles World Cup Championships.
Everything began for Hansen at the age of 10, when she showed up at a U.S. Slider Search event with her father.
“They have these clinics that will travel around, [and] they came to Long Beach,” Hansen said. “They just slap a helmet on you and then push you down this hill, and I guess if you have potential they’ll invite you to Lake Placid to try out.”
From then on, Hansen was a luge-lover. Traveling to Lake Placid, N.Y., and Europe added to the excitement as Hansen continually did well and slowly began to build her life around luge.
But growing up while constantly training required a price to pay.
“It definitely was [hard to balance with a social life],” Hansen said. “I had my freshman year in school, and then sophomore year I was invited to go to Europe. So from October to March — for the rest of high school — I was traveling.”
At BYU, Hansen has completed a fall semester, a spring semester and is currently working through independent study.
“I can come back for every spring term,” Hansen said. “So, I’ll probably be 30 by the time I have an associate’s.”
Hansen is currently prepping for the Junior World Cup, which will be held in Park City on Nov. 20-23. She will then head to Calgary, Canada, for another cup series. Hansen will participate yearly in a world cup until the 2014 Olympics, which will be held in Sochi, Russia.
“The Olympics are in February ,” Hansen said. “So that [preceding] fall, we’ll do Olympic trials. There’s a bunch of races and … the slowest person gets cut. It was kind of like sudden death, and if you made it past a certain point, then we had a whole new trial. It’s just a ton of race-offs, and there’s no time to choke, because then you’ll get sent home.”
The Winter Olympic team for 2014 will be decided by Christmas 2013.
Because Hansen spends so much time with her fellow competitors, they’ve become like family. That is, until the Olympics draw near.
“Usually during the season, we’re pretty much a team, and we work with each other,” Hansen said. “But when the Olympic year comes around, it’s every man for himself — you aren’t teammates anymore, you’re just racing for yourself. I’m preparing mentally now.”
Hansen’s goal is simple — make it to the Olympics.
“I won’t stop until I’m an Olympian,” Hansen said. “That’s my mindset right now. And I feel like if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, then everything will just work out. I’ll be 21 when Russia comes around, so maybe if I go, I’ll retire, or if I keep going, I keep going.”