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From La Cañada to Sochi, Kate Hansen's love of luge has carried her to Olympics

California girl has excelled in sport, leading her to winter wonderland that is 2014 Sochi Olympics.

February 05, 2014|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • La Cañada High graduate Kate Hansen has prepared for 11 years in the luge and will compete Monday at the Winter Games for Team USA. (Tim Berger/File Photo)
La Cañada High graduate Kate Hansen has prepared…

There really is nary a moment to ponder the romanticism of it all — the danger, the glory, the adrenaline.

The slightest of wrong moves has the potential to produce the most phenomenal of falls.

“If you think, then you’re on your face,” Kate Hansen says.

For more than a decade, Hansen, very much the embodiment of a California girl, has devoted her desire, determination, body, mind and soul to luge, speeding down tracks from Utah to Russia.

Six runs of practice and then two runs to glory.

“Beginning of the week, I’m definitely scared because it’s a new track,” says Hansen of the progression of taking six practice runs before two competition runs.

“Once racing comes, you’re ready to go. Nothing else matters, all that matters is making it down that track — I’m leaving it all on the ice.”

Across the globe, with her back on a sled, her feet forward and her aspirations high, Hansen has dreamed full speed ahead.

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“We go up to speeds of 80 miles an hour. It’s just you and the sled. If you just turn your head wrong, you’ll hit a wall. It’s all about finesse and flow,” says the 2010 La Cañada High graduate and lifelong La Cañada Flintridge resident. “It’s just hard to keep your cool when you feel like you have rocket boosters coming out of you.”

Therein lies a sample size of the high-speed world in which Hansen has ascended, realizing the ultimate goal of becoming an United States Olympian in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Still just a sophomore at Brigham Young University and only 21, at first glance, it might not seem as though it’s been a long nor arduous road. But the majority of Hansen’s life has been spent with a sled behind her and promise in front.

It has been a run filled with curves that have taken her through peaks and valleys, the struggle to hold tight to the normality of being a teenager at La Cañada High while spending the majority of her time training and racing in different states and countries.

There has been heartache and bone breaks, tears of joy, sadness and, most recently, complete and utter relief.

Perhaps most amazingly, she has carried through it all with a smile. And it would seem it is that affection for the sport that has carried her now onto the world’s grandest stage.

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