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La Cañada's Kate Hansen accomplishes dream in reaching Olympics

Luge: La Ca�±ada High alumna punches ticket to 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

December 18, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • Kate Hansen, a La Caada High graduate, qualified to 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in the luge. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Kate Hansen, a La Caada High graduate, qualified to 2014…

An eight-year dream backed by more than a decade of training, preparation and sacrifice came true for 21-year-old La Cañada resident Kate Hansen.

The luger and La Cañada High alumna was officially selected to the U.S. Olympics luge team on Sunday, two days after turning in the best performance of her career at the fifth Viessmann Luge World Cup in Park City, Utah.

Hansen was one of three women’s singles competitors out of a total 10-athlete luge contingent to earn a berth to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I don’t really have words for what happened,” Hansen said. “I think it will take a little bit longer to set in. It’s just been a real emotional time. This is what I’ve been working for.”

Hansen may very well be peaking, as she placed fourth, her highest-ever finish, at the World Cup on Friday in a time of 1 minute, 27.929 seconds.

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Hansen was actually just outside the lead midway through the race as she was second, trailing only race-winner Natalie Geisenberger (1:27.628) of Germany.

According to Hansen, she had technically already qualified to the Olympics thanks to her sixth-place effort (1:13.851) at the fourth World Cup in Whistler, Canada on Dec. 7 and her seventh-place finish (1:54.605) at the third World Cup in Winterberg, Germany on Dec. 1.

“It wasn’t totally necessary to have to finish in the top five [at Park City],” Hansen said, “but it’s great to have my best race.”

In qualifying to Sochi, Hansen helped eliminate 2010 U.S. Olympian Julia Clukey, who went into last weekend needing to finish in the top five, but placed sixth (1:28.003).

Earlier in the qualifying rounds, Hansen also outlasted teammate and friend Emily Sweeney.

“It’s definitely not easy to advance and it’s hard because you’re going against your teammates who are now your enemies,” Hansen said. “It’s incredibly stressful because at that moment your career can end.”

Hansen was joined in Utah by her father, John, and her mother, Kathie.

“Kate is very happy, but this whole process takes a toll. It’s very different,” John Hansen said. “She had a race-off earlier with Emily, whom she’s known and whom both started together when they were 10 years old. Sure, [Kate] won and advanced, but she also knows what it’s like not to reach the Olympics.”

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