Katie Uhlaender is in medal competition after two runs in the women's skeleton competition.
As always, the major league memories of her late father Ted Uhlaender are right there with her.
The 29-year-old American wears a necklace every time she makes the 90 mph, face-first journey down the icy track. It holds the 1972 NLCS championship ring that her father won as an outfielder with the Cincinnati Reds and a small baseball pendant containing some of his ashes.
It all proved to be good luck on Thursday as Uhlaender stands fourth after two runs, .14 seconds away from a bronze and .69 seconds away from gold. The final two runs will be made on Friday and Uhlaender will have a good shot at finally earning a medal. She finished sixth in 2006 at Turin and 11th in 2010 at Vancouver.
More imporantly, it'll provide a nice ending to a rough period in Uhlaender's life. Ted Uhlaender, who played eight seasons with the Twins, Indians and Reds, died of bone cancer in 2009 and his little girl took it hard. Throw in an injury list that would impress Evil Knievel and she didn't feel much purpose.
Uhlaender was able to work past the difficulties with the help of friend (and American Olympic legend) Picabo Steet. She also turned to some of Ted's old friends, including former Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. Ted was on Manuel's coaching staff with the Cleveland Indians and the two were best friends. Katie remembers falling in love with Jim Thome as a 15-year-old.
"I've known Katie since she was a little girl," Manuel told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "She looks just like Ted, and is just like him, just as tough and determined. If she says she's going to do something, she's going to do it. She used to come and see me whenever she started missing her father. She wanted to ask me things about him, and she wanted to hear all the stories."
Katie Uhlaender is building a pretty good stock of stories herself. She won a gold medal at the 2012 world championships and has twice won the World Cup season championship. Her tale might get even better on Friday as she and teammate Noelle Pikus-Pace (currently in second after the first two runs) complete their competition.
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