Kate Hansen

Kate Hansen
AP

Kate Hansen retires from luge, eyes Running of the Bulls

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The last luge competition of Kate Hansen‘s career came at the Sochi Olympics. The one before that, she became the first U.S. woman to win a World Cup race in 17 years.

Not a bad way to go out.

Hansen has retired and will not attempt an Olympic encore in two years.

“I won’t go back to [competing in] luge,” Hansen said in a phone interview, coming to a firm decision the last several months. “As much as I miss my team, I miss my people, I miss traveling, I’m just feeling good about where my life’s at. I’m feeling fulfilled in a lot of different ways.”

She may be done speeding down an icy chute at 80 miles per hour, but she’s not done challenging herself. Hansen’s bucket list includes a trip to Pamplona, Spain, next year to participate in the Running of the Bulls.

She placed 10th in Sochi while also gaining fame for her warm-up dance routine while listening to Beyoncé and pranking the world with her wolf-in-the-athletes-village video.

“I never cared if I won or lost; I never cared about racing,” Hansen said. “Results, like they got me through the day-by-day, but my favorite part was being able to travel the world and make best friends all over.”

She’s still involved in the sport. Hansen will be the analyst on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra‘s broadcast of the World Luge Championships on Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. ET.

“It’s really cool to use my craft that I’ve been working on half my life in a setting outside of competition,” Hansen said. “To still be a part of it is really fulfilling.”

Hansen, 23, sat out the last two seasons to concentrate on studying public relations and business at BYU (and backpack around Europe, Ecuador and Peru). She’s one year from her degree.

On March 27, 2014, Hansen was sought out by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ social media while attending a game to perform on their Dance Cam.

One month later, she threw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Dodgers game, met the right people and was offered a job with the club.

“Stars aligned,” Hansen said. “I would’ve never been able to take that job if I had been training.”

Hansen carries a microphone to help with an on-field pre-game show and in-game promotions (as she does at BYU). It helped her re-connect last summer with Jimmy Kimmel, with whom she pulled off the wolf-video prank in Sochi.

She hopes to be offered an ESPN internship for this summer after finding a delicate way to include her viral Sochi fame on her application.

“I embarrassed myself in front of the whole world,” she joked. “I definitely don’t lead with that.”

Hansen is also working on checking items off her bucket list, such as fixing up a motorcycle, reading Malcolm Gladwell‘s five books and wearing hoop earrings.

Hansen and her older sister plan to celebrate their birthdays in 2017 with a trip to Spain. They’re inviting anybody who wants to join them in the Running of the Bulls.

“I feel like after I went to the Olympics, if I have enough confidence, I can do anything,” Hansen said.

MORE: Update on every U.S. Olympic medalist from Sochi, two years from Pyeongchang

Wolfgate 2014

A photo posted by Kate Hansen (@k8ertotz) on

U.S. women notch unprecedented luge World Cup sweep

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The U.S. women’s luge team swept a World Cup podium for the first time, defeating the mighty Germans in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Saturday.

Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin notched her first career non-sprint World Cup win, breaking the track record in her first of two runs. She was followed by Emily Sweeney and Summer Britcher.

“This was just the one last check in the career,” Hamlin said, according to The Associated Press.

Olympic champion Natalie Geisenberger was fourth. It’s been at least 18 years since a major international women’s luge podium (Olympics, World Championships, World Cup) didn’t include at least one German, when Germany sent its best lugers.

Hamlin became the second U.S. woman to win a non-sprint World Cup luge race since 1997, joining Olympic teammate Kate Hansen, who topped the podium in the final World Cup of the 2013-14 season before the Sochi Olympics.

MORE LUGE: U.S. men have historic 1-2 in Lake Placid

Olympic Year in Review: Social Media

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OlympicTalk takes a look back at the year in Olympic sports this week. Today, we review social media.

Shaun White drops out, Canadians drop in

Shaun White‘s announcement on Feb. 5 that he would not compete in slopestyle in Sochi due to injury risk created quite the buzz. That included stinging criticism from his Canadian peers, medal hopefuls Sebastien Toutant and Max Parrot.

Toutant and Parrot later deleted their tweets, and didn’t win medals, but didn’t back down from their stances. Toutant and Parrot are both competing this season, while White hasn’t competed yet but indicated a return at some point.

source:  source:  Heidi Kloser, Olympian

U.S. moguls skier Heidi Kloser tore an ACL, partially tore an MCL, partially tore a meniscus and broke a femur in warm-ups for her Olympic debut, before the Opening Ceremony, and was unable to compete.

That prompted an emotional Facebook post from her father, Mike Kloser. Kloser returned to skiing Nov. 11 but hasn’t yet returned to competition, according to her International Ski Federation profile.

We just got down from the Olympic Village ER where Heidi was taken to after a bad fall in her training run prior to…

Posted by Mike Kloser on Thursday, February 6, 2014

Johnny Quinn Busts Through

Johnny Quinn had one of the more compelling backstories of the 230-member U.S. Olympic team — an NFL wide receiver turned bobsledder.

But he became much more famous on Feb. 8, the day after the Opening Ceremony.

Quinn reportedly went from 3,000 to 25,000 followers in the first week of the Olympics. As 2015 nears, Quinn is back down to 23,000 followers.

He kept up the theme of getting stuck and/or breaking down doors, even after the Olympics.

Ashley Wagner’s Meme-Hood

U.S. figure skater Ashley Wagner endured a tumultuous winter. She finished fourth at the U.S. Championships in January but was placed on the U.S. Olympic team over the third-place finisher.

Then, in Sochi, Wagner received surprisingly low scores (in her opinion, at least) in the team event short program and let her facial expression show it.

That look provided blood in the water for those looking for Sochi’s version of McKayla Maroney, the not-impressed gymnast from London 2012.

Wagner quickly became a meme. Seeing her face on all sorts of photoshops and social posts was “absolutely hilarious,” she said.

Tara and Johnny

Thanks in part to social media, NBC Olympic figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir became bigger hits than many of the athletes in Sochi.

Their refreshing candor and stylish outfits became a daily staple of figure skating coverage. They created shared Twitter and Instagram pages. “Enjoy the ride with us,” the @taraandjohnny Instagram profile read. We certainly did.

Kate Hansen Cries Wolf

U.S. Olympic luger Kate Hansen‘s impact on the Sochi Winter Games expanded well beyond the 3 minutes, 22 seconds, she spent in competition (she placed 10th).

Hansen, a 22-year-old California native, captivated viewers with her warm-up routine before competing — dancing to Beyoncé.

Nine days after the women’s luge event, Hansen again turned on her charm by uploading a YouTube video, apparently of a wolf lurking in the hall outside her room in Sochi. That turned out to be a prank.

Hansen isn’t competing this season, choosing to focus on studies at Brigham Young University.

Shaun White, Prom Crasher

In March, Pennsylvania high school senior Carly Monzo made a video asking Shaun White to her prom in May. She never heard from White, assumed he wouldn’t be able to make it and went with a friend instead.

As it turned out, White did find out about the video and surprised Monzo — with his band, Bad Things.

#Streamlining

In July, Ryan Lochte showed his Twitter followers proper swim technique, while sitting at a table full of food without his shirt on. Swim nation joined in, posting images of their streamlines in different settings.

Things Mutaz Barshim Could Jump Over

It was a fallow year in track and field. No Olympics. No World Championships. The men’s high jumpers didn’t care, creating compelling competition week-in and week-out on the Diamond League circuit.

The biggest star proved Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and 2013 World Championships silver medalist. At multiple meets, Barshim attempted to break a 21-year-old world record of 2.45m (or a little over 8 feet). He couldn’t clear the height. His consolation prize was the hashtag #thingsbarshimcouldjumpover.

#Karching

U.S. Olympic legend Karch Kiraly‘s reaction to his women’s team’s World Championship final victory Oct. 12 inspired a hashtag in the volleyball community.

Olympic Year in Review: Winter Sports | Summer Sports | Photos