World skeleton champion Katie Uhlaender seeks weightlifting place at London 2012
Monday, 27 February 2012
February 27 - American bob skeleton competitor Katie Uhlaender (pictured), who won a surprise victory at the World Championships in Lake Placid at the weekend, has already set her sights on another sporting accomplishment.
This Sunday (March 4), in Columbus, Ohio, nine days after winning her world title, the 5ft 3in racer will take part in the United States Olympic weightlifting trials.
The odds are against Uhlaender achieving similar success in her summer pursuit.
The trials will be only the fourth weightlifting competition of her life and, ranked 15th, she needs to add more than 60 pounds to her two-lift qualifying total to match the top women.
But Uhlaender has already shown here capacity for defying odds – she entered the Lake Placid World Championships at only 11th in the World Cup rankings.
"I would not rule her out by any means," US head skeleton coach Tuffy Latour told USA Today.
"Especially with the adrenaline rush she's getting off this world championships — and the confidence."
The skeleton victory gave Uhlaender, a two-time Winter Olympian, a full complement of World Championship medals - she won bronze in 2007 and silver in 2008 - and spotlighted her attempt to qualify for a Summer Olympics.
"I've always wanted to be an all-around athlete," said the 27-year-old daughter of Major League Baseball outfielder Ted Uhlaender.
"Skeleton is extreme.
"It incorporates the track aspect of things.
"And I already did weightlifting for skeleton.
"So it was just another opportunity that I saw, and I'm going for it."
Her preparations for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, where she finished 11th, were undermined by a serious knee injury she had suffered while snowmobiling the previous year which required several operations.
After taking up weightlifting during her rehab, Uhlaender got into the routine of lifting before and after training runs and races, and sent a video of her efforts to USA Weightlifting coaches.
"It is a balancing act, and I do get overwhelmed," she says.
She won her first weightlifting competition, a regional event in the summer of 2010 and finished third in last summer's National Championships in the 63-kilogram (138.6-pound) weight class.
She qualified for Olympic trials in early December with a second-place finish at the American Open at 58 kilos (127.6 pounds).
"She's just a tremendous athlete," Kyle Pierce, head coach of USA Weightlifting's High Performance Centre at LSU Shreveport.
"There's not too many people that could jump in the sport that quick and rise that rapidly."
Uhlaender said: "I'm the underdog.
"But I would rather walk away saying, 'I gave it my all' than 'I don't know what would have happened'."
February 2012: Yarnold adds world skeleton bronze to world junior title as Britons take three of top five places