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La Cañada High School grad goes for the gold

Luge athlete Kate Hansen is in Sochi to compete in the Winter Olympics.

February 08, 2014|By Grant Gordon,grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • US Olympic luger and LCF resident Kate Hansen.
US Olympic luger and LCF resident Kate Hansen. (Courtesy of Margot…)

More than a decade after Kate Hansen first began her days practicing the luge, she finds herself upon the doorstep of realizing her Olympics dream.

In her second attempt at making the U.S. Olympics women’s luge team, the La Cañada High graduate succeeded and will now turn her dream into a reality Monday when she makes her first run at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I’m excited to finally live out my dream,” said the 21-year-old Hansen, a 2010 La Cañada High graduate and a lifelong La Cañada Flintridge resident who began sliding when she was 10 after attending a luge recruitment camp in Long Beach.

Still roughly four weeks ahead of the Olympic Games, Hansen was in Altenberg, Germany for the eighth leg of the International Luge Federation Viessmann Luge World Cup series in mid-January.

“Honestly, I’m satisfied. I’m satisfied just making the team,” said Hansen, who added her goals were not to fall on her face on TV and to make her parents proud first and foremost. “Second, I think a top 10 would be great. I think I’ve got it in me. If the stars align for me, I think a top five would be pretty cool.”

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But then things changed dramatically for Hansen when she won the final race in the World Cup series in Sigulda, Latvia. With the victory, Hansen became the first United States singles racer to win a World Cup event since 1997 and definitely altered expectations heading to Sochi.

“I definitely have a lot of confidence going into the games,” Hansen stated via email two days after her win on Jan. 25. “I still think the same about a top 10 finish and whatnot, but maybe medaling isn’t so much outta the question. I’m not going to expect or assume anything and I’m just going to give it my all.”

Were Hansen or any of her teammates to ascend to the podium and win a medal, it would also make history as a United States woman has never claimed a medal, with Courtney Zablocki’s fourth-place finish in 2006 standing as the top finish for an American female.

Perhaps Hansen’s World Cup triumph is just the catalyst needed to change history. At least that’s what Team USA is obviously hoping for.

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