Slider Uhlaender gets spot on US World Cup roster
The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is willing to wait.
The USBSF said on Saturday that it has awarded a spot on this season's World Cup team to Uhlaender, who is still recovering from a shattered left kneecap that's needed three surgeries in the past six months. It's a significant boost to Uhlaender's Olympic hopes, since World Cup points will be the easiest way for sliders to make the roster for the Vancouver Games in February.
"Based on Katie's performance in the current (Olympic cycle) and her medical diagnosis that she will be 100 percent by the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the USBSF waiver committee has granted her a waiver," Darrin Steele, the federation's CEO, said in a statement.
It's not a surprising decision, but it will almost certainly add tension when the team trials resume Friday in Park City, Utah.
Originally, sliders expected that the top three finishers in those team trials, which began Wednesday in Lake Placid, would be automatically placed on the World Cup team and have the inside track at Olympic spots.
Now, only the top two would figure to be World Cup-bound.
Noelle Pikus-Pace won the first two races in the four-race trials series, with Rebecca Sorensen finishing second each time.
They're now favored to join Uhlaender on the World Cup team, with the third-place finisher from the trials - likely Courtney Yamada-Anderson, Keslie Tomlinson or Annie O'Shea - getting invited to train with the World Cup squad on the Olympic track in Whistler, B.C., starting later this month, but having no guarantee of racing when the top international series opens in Park City in mid-November.
Uhlaender received word in recent days that she's been cleared for more training, another sign the knee is healing. She said she's rehabbing as much as she can and has been sliding, but isn't pushing at the start of runs, mindful of not testing her knee too soon.
"The whole point of the Olympics is to push yourself to the best you can be, and that's what I'm doing," Uhlaender said. "Whatever happens happens. The heart of a champion is someone that puts it all out there, regardless of what the results are, and that's what I'm here to do. And in doing that, I'll push my team to the best they can be. So that's the plan."
Steele said the waiver committee did not vote on giving Uhlaender the pass onto the World Cup team before the start of team trials "so that athletes could stay focused on the races and not be distracted by the decision."
Talk of injuries and waivers dominated the first week of the team trials. Veteran men's sliders Eric Bernotas (quadriceps) and Zach Lund (hamstring) both applied for waivers; Bernotas received his and a ticket onto the World Cup roster, while Lund's application was denied.