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Uhlaender sixth in women’s skeleton Olympic race, Curtis finishes 21st
YANQING, China (February 12, 2022) – Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) has come full circle. She was 21-years-old when she finished sixth at the 2006 Torino Games, and now, at 37, she finished sixth in what will likely be her final women’s skeleton Olympic competition. Kelly Curtis (Princeton, N.J.) finished 21st in her Olympic debut.
“I started in sixth, I finished in sixth, so it’s not so bad,” Uhlaender said. “I’m a little bummed. I thought that we could pull off a medal today.”
“I did what I could,” Uhlaender added. “That’s what I had. That’s what was in my tank today. So that’s why I’m happy.”
Uhlaender has tied the record for the most Olympic appearances by an American woman, and she is the only U.S. woman in any sliding sport to make five Olympic teams.
Uhlaender was sixth 16 years ago in Torino. She competed through heartbreak in 2010 after losing her dad and finished 11th, and she was on the brink of the medals at the 2014 Sochi Games after finishing 0.04 seconds from bronze in fourth place. Elena Nikitina, who claimed bronze for Russia, had her medal taken away after a long investigation led to her disqualification from the Sochi Games. Uhlaender never actually received the medal, just the title of bronze medalist, and then lost that when Nikitina’s third-place finish was restored under appeal. Then she raced with a broken heart again at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, just months after her teammate and friend Steven Holcomb passed away. She finished 13th.
She came back for 2022. She wanted to race without the heartbreak, to finish on her own terms. Tonight she did just that.
Uhlaender was in eighth place overnight, and a medal wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. She moved up two spots into sixth with a third run time of 1:02.15, but tweaked her hamstring at the start. She was still able to match her start time of 5.27 seconds, and laid down the fifth fastest time of 1:02.21 in the final heat. Uhlaender secured sixth place with a four-run combined time of 4:09.23.
“I had a plan today about what I wanted to adjust and I accomplished it,” Uhlaender said. “My push wasn’t where I wanted, but you know. And I was just thinking of all the people that wanted to be here that couldn’t. All the people that came in fourth in an Olympics before and wanted another shot, and I was lucky enough to get that.”
Curtis, a member of the U.S. Air Force World Class Athlete Program, completed her first Olympic appearance in 21st place. She was tied for 18th going into today’s finale, and finished 21st with a third run time of 1:03.24.
“I’m a little disappointed,” Curtis said. “I feel my result here doesn’t really reflect on all the work that got me here.”
Curtis battled it out with her teammates on the World Cup circuit to earn her spot on the team. When she secured her nomination by just 12 points at the World Cup finale in St. Moritz, Switzerland last month, she couldn’t believe it. Curtis said it didn’t feel real until the light turned green in yesterday’s first heat of the women’s skeleton Olympic competition.
“I think just taking it one day at a time helped me get to this moment,” Curtis said.
Curtis is now looking forward to spending time in Miami, Florida to celebrate her mom’s birthday, and then returning to Italy where she and her husband have just signed a mortgage on a home. Curtis works in knowledge operations at the Aviano Air Base.
“I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and seeing what this means to them,” Curtis said. “They’ve been very proud of me for getting to this moment.”
Germany’s Hannah Neise moved up from second place to take the Olympic title by 0.62 seconds today with a total time of 4:07.62.. Niese has never medaled in a World Cup race, but she showed her strength on the Chinese track when she finished second at the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation sanctioned race in Yanqing in October 2021. She was eighth fastest in the first heat, but posted the fastest times of the remaining three heats.
Jacyln Narracott from Australia claimed the silver medal in 4:08.24. Her first career World Cup medal was gold in the season finale on the all-natural track in St. Moritz, Switzerland last month. She is the 18th Australian athlete in history to earn a medal at a Winter Olympics.
Kimberly Bos from the Netherlands posted speedy runs today to move into medal position, capping a stellar season. Bos, who won the World Cup title this season, earned Olympic bronze with an aggregate time of 4:08.46.
Now that the women’s skeleton Olympic competition has concluded, Uhlaender isn’t sure this is her last race; she’s considering at least one more year.
“Maybe I’ll do one more year so it’s an even 20,” Uhlaender said. “I don’t know if my body will hold on another four years, but I think a World Championships in St. Moritz would be epic.”
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1. Hannah Neise (GER) 4:07.62 (1:02.36, 1:02.19, 1:01.44, 1:01.63);
2. Jaclyn Narracott (AUS) 4:08.24 (1:02.05, 1:02.29, 1:01.79, 1:02.11);
3. Kimberly Bos (NED) 4:08.46 (1:02.51, 1:02.22, 1:01.86, 1:01.87);
6. Katie Uhlaender (USA) (1:02.41, 1:02.46, 1:02.15, 1:02.21);
21. Kelly Curtis (USA) 3:09.23 (1:02.94, 1:03.05, 1:03.24, DNS)
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USA Bobsled/Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com. Individuals interested in becoming a bobsled or skeleton athlete can visit www.usabobsledskeleton.com.