Hairopoulos: Adrenaline junkie, Winter Olympian Katie Uhlaender pursues new sport in Frisco
Not trying is not in Katie Uhlaender’s nature. The three-time U.S. Winter Olympian in skeleton figures she has nothing to lose as she pursues a new sport — track cycling.
The 31-year-old is accustomed to racing down an icy track, head first, at nearly 90 miles per hour, her glossy, red hair tucked into a helmet. But the McGregor, Texas native chose Dallas as a place to build a unique support system and a bridge to her future — the possibilities for which are ever-changing.
Uhlaender now trains at Frisco’s Superdrome, a 250-meter, wooden oval track that banks at 44 degrees in the turns. She’s working for the Carrick Brain Center in Irving, the very place she received treatment for a concussion that threatened her participation in the 2014 Sochi Games. She would recover enough to compete, finishing .04 seconds from the skeleton medal podium.
The 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea are still her priority. But in the meanwhile, she is chasing something else…
“I have a need for adrenaline,” she said, her face showing the remnants of scrapes after a recent spill on her bike, which, like her skeleton sled, doesn’t have brakes. “I love going fast. I love doing something that requires calculated decisions in a moment of chaos.”
Cycling is actually the third Olympic sport that Uhlaender has thrown herself into. She also competed at the U.S. team trials for weightlifting in an unsuccessful attempt to make the 2012 London Games.
She picked up track cycling in January at the suggestion of a friend — it allowed her to crosstrain as she recovered from hip and ankle surgeries that forced her to take the past year off skeleton racing.
She attended a USA Cycling camp in April. Uhlaender is now targeting the national championships Aug. 3-8 in Carson, Calif.