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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

U.S. Olympian has Atwood ties

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Katie Uhlaender, a member of the USA Olympics skeleton team, has enjoyed spending time on her late father's farm near Atwood. Skeleton is a fast winter sliding sport in which an individual person rides a small sled down a frozen track while lying face down, during which athletes experience forces up to five times the normal force of gravity.
ATWOOD, Kansas -- Katie Uhlaender, a member of the USA Olympics skeleton team, appears to use a family farm near Atwood, Kansas, as a retreat, where she says she best feels the spirit of her father, Major League baseball outfield Ted Uhlaender.

Katie tells "Guidepost" magazine that her dad retired after playing for the Twins, the Indians and the Reds to an 800-acre farm near Atwood. "Farm life wasn't my thing, but it was Dad's passion, his playing field after baseball," she wrote for the February edition of Guideposts.

Katie said in Guideposts, and also in the Feb. 2-8 edition of "American Profile," that her dad was her biggest fan, her sports psychologist, her mentor and advisor. He died of a heart attack in February 2009, and Katie lost that foundation. In American Profile, she's quoted, "When I lost him, I literally had to re-learn how to live."

She also had to recover from injuries and surgeries, and overcome the anger that accompanied the loss of her father.

The story in Guideposts indicates that two years later, shortly after the Vancouver Olympics, where she finished 11th in the skeleton, Katie and one of her three brothers went to the Kansas farm for the first time since their dad's death. In Guideposts, Katie says, "When we pulled into the driveway and I saw the spread -- the old wooden barn, the acres of land, the cattle -- I felt Dad's spirit all around me. This is where I need to be, I thought."

So, during her off-season, that's where Katie went for training, and for farm work that includes herding cattle, bailing hay and fixing fences. She wrote in Guideposts, "It was pure. Simple. Hard. Beautiful. And, like Dad, I fell completely in love with it, with the incredible challenge of it."

The USA skeleton team includes Noelle Pikus-Pace of Orem, Utah, and Uhlaender of Breckenridge, Colorado, in the two women's spots; and Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin), John Daly (Smithtown, New York) and Kyle Tress (Ewing, New Jersey) in the three available men's positions.

Thirty men and 20 women will compete in the 2014 Olympic skeleton events in Sochi, Russia. The Olympic skeleton athletes compete in a four-heat format over two days of racing. The women race Feb. 13 and 14, while the men compete Feb. 14 and 15.

According to TeamUSA, Uhlaender is currently enrolled at Colorado Mountain College as a science major.

After the Sochi Games, she plans to switch to Olympic weightlifting. Uhlaender competed in her first weightlifting competition in 2010 and is earning national championship medals.

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