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Olympian Kate Hansen returns home to La Cañada

Luge: Following 10th-place finish in Olympics debut, La Ca�±ada High grad comes home to plenty of fanfare.

March 12, 2014|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • Samuel, 8, and Maya White, 10, of La Cañada, wait as Olympian Kate Hansen signs her autograph for them at the Crescenta-Caada Family YMCA in La Cañada on Tuesday. Hansen competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in the luge and took 10th. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Samuel, 8, and Maya White, 10, of La Cañada, wait…

LA CAÑADA — Living out her dream at 80-plus miles an hour upon the storied stage of the Winter Olympics for all to see across television screens, Internet streams, newspaper covers and social media platforms, Kate Hansen smiled wide, shined bright and very much became a star in the Sochi, Russia Games.

PHOTOS: Olympian Kate Hansen visits YMCA for autographs and dodgeball

Roughly a month removed from making her Olympic debut as part of the Team USA luge team and concluding her four runs with a 10th-place finish in the women’s singles race, Hansen returned home to the states and her native La Cañada Flintridge.

Though she’s not sliding against the world’s best, she’s still racing around.

One of her latest stops came Tuesday, as she dropped by the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA as part of a whirlwind week filled with pictures and autographs aplenty, awards, appearances, television and some family time.

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“It was just so cool,” said Hansen, 21, of Tuesday’s experience of meeting fans and admirers, posing for pictures and signing autographs on YMCA fliers, helmets, shirts and even a little girl’s cast. “The little kids were so great. I remember when I was in that position. To be on the other end was so surreal.”

It wasn’t the last time Hansen would be on hand in La Cañada to see well-wishers and fans face to face, as she was scheduled to appear at the Los Gringos Locos restaurant Wednesday and Thursday.

Tuesday’s YMCA crowd was a large one, consisting primarily of youngsters.

“We were expecting a large crowd cause she’s the local, hometown Olympian, which is pretty great. They’ve been here waiting around since 3 p.m.,” said Craig Strazzeri, the YMCA’s director of healthy living who set up Hansen’s appearance at 7:30 p.m. and her subsequent participation in an adult league dodgeball championship. “It’s their role model, they all look up to Kate Hansen.”

Hansen, a La Cañada High graduate and lifelong La Cañada resident when she’s not trotting the globe with the national luge team or attending school at Brigham Young University, was the first Olympian from La Cañada since Peter Wells made the 2004 Summer Games in sailing.

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