Three-time Olympian and Texas' own Katie Uhlaender will once again take to the track in her quest for Olympic gold Feb. 13, and this time around she is more determined than ever to accomplish her goal.
Uhlaender is coming back after suffering a concussion that sidelined her for several months but now, more than ever, she is determined to take to the skeleton track for Team USA, in Sochi, Russia next Thursday.
"Right now I am in waiting," said Uhlaender in September when we caught up with her at the Team USA media summit in Park City, Utah. "I am a warrior with a purpose, just excited to get out to the battlefield. I can't wait to compete."
Growing up in central Texas, Uhlaender credits the Lone Star State with giving her that competitive edge.
"Texas does it big. They are all about their sports, Friday night, football, baseball," said Uhlaender.
In addition to visiting family in Texas over the holidays, Uhlaender spent time in Irving undergoing rehabilitation after suffering a concussion in the fall while sledding in Lake Placid, NY.
"I was sliding down the track and having a phenomenal run, and in the middle of curve seven, it was like someone smacked me upside the head with a two-by-four," Uhlaender said on Dec. 23.
But all of her hard work and dedication to come back from that concussion paid off the weekend of Jan. 18 when she was nominated to represent Team USA in the 2014 Sochi games in skeleton.
"If you have those dreams where you are flying and you giggle through it, you will probably love skeleton because going head first at 90 miles-an-hour on ice on a little cookie sheet, is relaxed chaos," said Uhlaender.
This is the third time around for Uhlaender. The last time she competed in the Olympics was in Vancouver, in 2010, a short time after losing her father, Ted Uhlaender, to cancer. He continues to be her guiding force and she keeps a piece of him with her wherever she goes: his Major League Baseball NLCS championship ring.
"[His ring] was a stepping stone to the world series. So it's a reminder that the perseverance, the integrity of winning or losing and not taking the support for granted is important," said Uhleander.
Uhlaender, not only hopes to make her father proud, her family proud, Texas and the nation proud, she hopes her story of comeback from injury and loss will help others rise up and achieve their dreams.