Winter sports: Kate Hansen punches ticket onto luge World Cup team
A national title. A broken foot. A berth on the World Cup team.
It's been a wild few days for U.S. Olympic luge hopeful Kate Hansen, whose chances of qualifying for this winter's Sochi Games are looking better and better.
Hansen won the second and final round of team selection races Sunday in Park City, cementing her spot on the roster that the U.S. will send into the first half of the World Cup season that starts next month. That means Hansen is one step closer to securing an Olympic berth, something the Californian narrowly missed four years ago.
"I've learned a lot. I've learned a lot about how I work mentally," Hansen said Sunday in an interview with USA Luge. "Obviously, no one wants to break their foot, but I'm capable of things that I never thought I would be capable of."
Hansen got hurt in a training accident on Wednesday in Park City, when she encountered some trouble around Curve 14 and wound up slamming her foot into the track wall. By the time she finished that run, she was in tears and great pain, knowing something was wrong. And before long, team officials knew she needed X-rays, which confirmed the broken bone.
Two days later, she was back on the ice.
Two more days after that, she beat a field of five women in the selection race with a combined two-run time of 1 minute, 29.601 seconds, or 0.147 seconds better than Julia Clukey.
Also Sunday in Park City, national champion Chris Mazdzer won the men's selection race, and the team of Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall prevailed in the doubles competition.
Hansen, Clukey, Erin Hamlin and Summer Britcher will be the U.S. women's World Cup team to open the schedule. Mazdzer, Tucker West, Joe Mortensen and Taylor Morris will be the American lugers on the men's team.