BYU alumna Kate Hansen reflects on Olympic experience as Beijing games approach
As the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics approach, BYU’s Kate Hansen reflected on her 2014 Olympic run and her return to the games, not as an athlete, but as a commentator for NBC.
Next month, preeminent winter athletes from across the globe will have the opportunity to come together to compete for gold.
For most, the Olympics become a 16-day binge of their favorite athletes and events, but for Hansen, the feelings are too real to simply sit down and watch the games.
“Spectators view it as good family TV on a Tuesday night, but I can’t feel or unsee what I went through to casually watch,” Hansen said. “It makes me want to throw up all over again.”
Hansen competed in the 2014 Olympic Games representing Team USA in luge. Nearly 2,800 athletes from 88 National Olympic Committees had the honor to compete in the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia. At the age of 21, Hansen placed top 10 in the Women’s Single Luge event.
A natural-born athlete, Hansen participated in every sport you can imagine until “selling her soul” at the age of 11 to luge.
Eight years later, Hansen looks back on her last Olympic run with nothing but fond memories, including a 10th-place finish and a pre-race dance routine that gained worldwide attention. Dancing to Beyoncé, Hansen became a viral sensation. Queen B even reached out, posting on Facebook: “Go, Kate!”
She didn’t do as well as she hoped in luge, but was grateful that she could “squeeze” herself into the top 10. Regardless of her placement, she said she knew “the Olympics were only two weeks of an 11-year career, and it didn’t represent my career as a whole.”
Most young kids dream of going to the Olympics, but for Hansen, it was never really about the prestige of such an event. Instead, it was about embracing the struggle and choosing not to run from it. She said her experiences there taught her what she was truly capable of and the limits that she could push.
“The Olympic journey offered no money, no education, and left me with injuries I still deal with 10 years later…and I would still do it again,” Hansen said.
Hansen competes in her second run at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games. (Tobias Hase/EPA/Corbis)
For Hansen, she said the Olympics were comparable to the “Hunger Games.” Although it was not actually a fight to the death, the Olympic Games required the same amount of grit and included the same arena of talent.
“It’s a pressure cooker of talent, which is incredible to witness and feel the energy, but I was extremely stressed up until my race,” Hansen said.
The Olympic motto, “Faster, Higher, Stronger — Together,” elevated Hansen’s involvement with the games. Once every four years, these top-notch athletes come together to put this motto into practice on the world’s biggest stage. Some of Hansen’s favorite moments involved the cafeteria and simply being around her heroes.
“Being able to talk to anyone and they treat you like a friend because the level of respect in that space is immense,” Hansen said. “Anyone who made it into that village was the best in the world at what they did, so to be around that elite energy was elevating for me.”
Hansen works as MC at Dodger Stadium. (Kate Hansen) Hansen poses on one of her trips around the world. (Kate Hansen)
After 2014, Hansen said goodbye to the ice, “never looking back.” Since then, she has been the MC for the Los Angeles Dodgers and has enjoyed traveling the world. She said she is simply grateful for the opportunity to develop other parts of herself. A prominent figure on social media, she has around 18,000 followers on Instagram and 16,000 followers on Twitter.
Feb. 4 marks the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will span 16 days. Coverage will be available on all NBCU outlets and streamed on Peacock.