I love this interview with US Olympic luge racer Kate Hansen from KCRW’s Press Play. Kate just became the first American, male or female, to win a luge World Cup race in over 16 years. This despite getting her start in never-frozen southern California, rolling on a sled down the streets of La Cañada, just a few miles up the 2 freeway from me.
Kate won her World Cup race in Sigulda, Latvia. A few years ago on that very track, I fulfilled a childhood dream of riding in a bobsled. I will never forget how much it hurt. The centrifugal force when we hit a curve was massive. It pushed straight down, like a helicopter landing on my shoulders. And we didn’t move anywhere near Kate’s speed. Our sled maybe touched 60 mph, while Kate flew down at 75.
So Kate routinely endures 25% more force than I did, and she does it lying down, so it smashes right into her heart and lungs. Meanwhile, she’s riding a sled going so fast that it steers with the slightest movement. “If you’re just going down a straightaway and you just look left,” Kate says, “You will bash a wall pretty hard.” “Pretty hard” being about the same as if Kate rode her sled the wrong way down the 2 and into an approaching Escalade.
You can cheer on Kate in her four Olympic runs on Monday Feb. 10 and Tuesday Feb. 11, assuming you’re willing to get up at 3:45am ET and stream it on NBCOlympics.com. That’s because, while Kate has a world championship, she doesn’t have the one thing NBC Sports requires for TV coverage: a penis. Despite six networks’ worth of coverage, NBC only plans to broadcast men’s luge.