Grant Gordon: 'Go Kate, go!'

February 05, 2014|By Grant Gordon,
  • A billboard congratulating U.S. Olympic luger Kate Hansen, a La Cañada High graduate, was put up on Foothill Blvd. in La Cañada. Photographed on Monday, February 3, 2014. (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer)
A billboard congratulating U.S. Olympic luger Kate Hansen,…

“The Olympic games are coming and she’s on the luge team/
She’s the fastest on the ice that anybody’s ever seen/
Go Kate, go!”

- Ukulele Bartt

It’s hard to know somebody after just one phone call.

It’s an even more arduous notion when that phone call is nine hours apart, 5,800 miles away and 45 minutes late.

That’s how I met Kate Hansen, though, finally getting through for an interview nearly an hour late as a sunny Southern California morning was out my window and a cold German night carried on outside of her hotel room in Altenberg.

But when you talk to Kate Hansen, even if it’s just for 35 minutes or so, it doesn’t take that long to believe you’ve gotten to know her. And it takes even less time to know you’re going to root for her.

When you correspond with her via email, her smile still jumps out of the screen.


Her honesty is as refreshing as the ice in which her path to the Olympics has been forged.

Her exuberance is palpable, her charisma unbridled and her story uplifting.

“She’s a very unique person,” longtime friend Shannon O’Hara, a La Cañada High graduate like Hansen, says. “She’s a very contagious spirit to be around.”

It’s remarkable enough for any athlete to make their way to the Olympics, which, at 21 years young Hansen has done, bound for the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

But consider that she’s done so in the sport of luge, one dominated by Germany and one that features just two tracks in the United States (Utah and New York).

Californians are hardly abundant as it relates to sliding, much less those that were busy skateboarding and surfing, playing volleyball, basketball and softball like Hansen was.

But for all the sun she reveled in, it was within the snow in which she made the commitment to shine.

Like most specialized sports, those who excel are away from school for long periods of time growing up, often going the home school or certainly the private school route. Hansen, however, isn’t like most and went above and beyond to graduate from La Cañada High.

“She was just a really dedicated kid,” says La Cañada girls’ basketball Coach Tamar Hill, who coached Hansen on the basketball team and was also her biology teacher. “It’s phenomenal what she was able to do when she wasn’t in a classroom.”

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