Olympic gold medal skeleton hopeful Katie Uhlaender lost her father to cancer in February, but his fighting spirit continues to help her triumph over adversity.
Ted Uhlaender, a former Major League outfielder and Baylor alum, died at the age of 68 after a yearlong battle with bone marrow cancer. He instilled values in his daughter that have helped pave the way for her success.
"Perseverance, determination, honor and respect," Katie Uhlaender told the Star-Telegram. "Be the athlete that he taught me to be."
Her dad's career included two World Series appearances in an eight-year baseball career with the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. Katie Uhlaender told the paper that she wears one of her father’s World Series rings on a chain around her neck as a reminder of the things he taught her.
Growing up, Katie Uhlaender followed in her father's athletic footsteps, playing baseball as the only girl on her school's baseball team. She spent eight years of her childhood years in central Texas.
She learned that her father had passed away shortly after she claimed silver in the final World Cup skeleton competition of the 2008-09 season in Park City, Utah. She had felt torn throughout the competition because she wanted to be at her father's side, but he urged her to not to quit.
And she hasn't given up, even after shattering her kneecap into several pieces in a snowmobile accident in April. She had numerous operations to repair the damage, and on Oct. 17 was waived onto the women’s skeleton 2009-2010 World Cup team.
"The only time I feel normal is when I slide, and that's because I feel like my dad is there with me," Uhlaender said in a statement released after his death. "Now that he is gone, it's all I have left to do for him."
Women's Skeleton competition takes place in the afternoon on Feb. 18 and 19. The Winter Olympics start Feb. 12.