Kate Hansen dances at the closing party after the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Closing Ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium on Feb. 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Luger Kate Hansen might not look familiar while she’s standing still, but her unique routine of warming up with fancy Beyoncé-inspired moves at the Sochi Winter Games made her unforgettable — and the recipient of many marriage proposals. “I guess I should say for the record, I am taken,” Hansen admits. “I do think it’s hilarious that so many people are interested in the story — I mean all I did was bust a few dance moves. But social media has provided many great laughs for me and my friends the past couple weeks.”
|Kate Hansen dances as she listens to music prior to the women's luge at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Sanki Sliding Center on Feb. 10, 2014.
She was also responsible for making others laugh when she posted a video on Twitter — with the assistance of Jimmy Kimmel — as a prank showing a wolf wandering the halls of the athlete village. (Turned out it was filmed in Kimmel’s studio in LA.)
Nowadays the 21-year-old Californian is getting in a few more laughs as she road trips across America with her mom before getting serious back at school next month. We caught up with Hansen along her travels to hear what she had to say about her first Olympic experience, what the future holds for her and the rumor she is glad to finally put to rest.
So, tell us about this road trip.
Yep, road trip across ‘merica. We started in Lake Placid and then we are going across back to LA — so it is fully across the country. I moved out to Lake Placid last summer just for training so my car and all my stuff was out there, so we went and picked it up.
Any favorite stops or states?
Yeah, we really liked Nashville. It was really good to us. And good eats. This whole southern food thing, I clearly haven’t lived because I’ve never had it before, and it’s so good. We had fried chicken and biscuits and grits and just good stuff. Not stuff I was eating before Sochi — not at all.
Any good stories from the road?
Actually it’s pretty funny, when we were in Nashville hanging out outside this restaurant waiting to eat, this group of college guys came up to my mom while I was off somewhere and were like, “Are you guys from California?” My mom told them yes, and then they said, “Did she just compete in the Olympics?” My mom was like, yes. They said, “We knew it! We totally knew it!” It was super random. And they were from Illinois, vacationing in Nashville. One of the guys interned at ESPN so he followed the Olympics a ton, so that made sense. But typically I just get some weird looks here and there.
How do you think it’s going to be when you head back to school in April?
After the Games I actually went up to go visit my friends at college for like a weekend and they threw me a welcome home party. There were more people there that I didn’t know than I did know. And they all wanted to meet me so that was cool, but I definitely did not expect that.
What do you think about all the attention you got in Sochi for your sweet dance moves?
I didn’t think that it was really that big of a deal. When I was racing, I turned off my phone and my computer and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. And then when I finished racing I turned everything back on and social media just kind of blew up in my face. I was very surprised by the amount of press that was surrounded around the whole dancing thing. I thought it was pretty hilarious. It’s cool but I’m just glad I got to be a part of it all.
You also got a lot of attention after teaming up with Jimmy Kimmel on a prank that let people think there was a wolf loose in the athletes’ village. How did that come about?
I grew up in LA so some of my family friends knew people who worked on the show. The producers contacted me and were like we have this idea, what do you think? I thought it was hilarious — I said count me in. And then obviously it blew up overnight. I think a lot of people were really mad about it but I had no bad intentions. I obviously didn’t mean to offend anyone. Since being home I’ve only heard good things about it.
How was your first Olympic experience overall?
I loved every second of it! Probably my favorite part was walking in Opening Ceremony. That was pretty unbelievable, to say the least. People ask what was the best part or the worst part — I honestly couldn’t even tell you the worst part. Maybe the loss of sleep by the end of the trip?
Were you happy with 10th place?
Yeah, I was pretty stoked. I finished 10th and all I wanted was to go to the Olympics and finish in the top 10, so I barely squeezed in there. But the week before, my training wasn’t really great so I actually considered myself pretty lucky, because it could have gone a lot worse for me.
Have you kept in touch with anyone you met in Sochi?
I definitely met a ton of people, but I was expecting it to be a lot more social. I think one thing that surprised me at the Games was that before you compete everyone was so focused and you’re so busy. I was expecting to go and just hang out with everyone, but we’re there to do a job. But I met a lot of cool kids and we’ve been staying in touch over Twitter. I’m excited to go to D.C. next month for the Team USA trip to the White House so I can see a bunch of people again.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ll head back to Brigham Young University at the end of April. I am a sophomore in credits and I am probably going to do something exercise science based, but I’m not in the program or anything. I’m just trying to figure out my life, you know?
Do you see a future in luge?
I’ll head back to school for a little bit but after that I’ll definitely keep lifting and stuff and take it year-by-year to see if I’ll be competing in Korea.
Any future in dance?
I’ve always loved to dance. I’ve never taken any dance classes though. I would never really consider myself a dancer but I love to dance.
I’ve kind of danced my whole career but before I would just get really embarrassed. So when people would look at me warming up and I would be dancing, I’d stop because I was really insecure about it. But this year I broke my foot and I couldn’t really warm up properly by running, but I could dance in place. So one option was, well, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do — I don’t care what people think about me anymore. So I just kind of went for it and whoever was looking, they were going to get a show!
Any chance we’ll see you on “Dancing with the Stars,” like fellow Team USA athletes Meryl Davis, Charlie White and Amy Purdy?
No, you know, right now I’m just going to head back to school — try and start knocking some credits out and try to propel my life forward. But we’ll see how it goes.
Beyoncé posted a link to you dancing on her Facebook page and wished you well during the Games. Any offers to be her backup dancer?
Oh my gosh, I wish! When I got that shout-out I thought, sweet, who needs a medal anyway when you can get a shout-out from Beyoncé? Honestly if I ever got to meet her I’d probably faint and go into cardiac arrest. But no, nothing has happened. Maybe in my lifetime if I get really lucky I’ll get to meet her, but no endorsement deals by any means.
People have this misconception that because you’re Mormon you’re not allowed to dance. What is that about?
I couldn’t really tell you where that misconception came from because clearly those people are misinformed. Our dance troupe at BYU, the Cougarettes, have actually taken nationals two years in a year, in hip-hop as well. So you’ll always hear some weird things about yourself but I’m glad I could put that rumor to rest, more than anything else.