La Cañada luger Kate Hansen concluded her first-ever Olympics appearance on Tuesday in Russia, dancing her way off the track at the Sanki Olympic Sliding Center in Polyana, Russia, having accomplished her dream of competing during the
PHOTOS: Locals celebrate Olympian Kate Hansen at Los Gringos Locos
Meanwhile, 6,889 miles across the globe, friends, family and supporters packed into Los Gringos Locos to cheer on their hometown hero as Hansen placed 10th overall in the women's singles luge event.
The Foothill Boulevard restaurant, co-owned by Kate's father, John, and his brother, Bent, was the place to be Monday morning during the Olympian's first two luge runs, then again on Tuesday afternoon.
It was standing room only Tuesday as people crowded around flat-screen TVs to watch a replay of Hansen's final two runs. Amid the melee sat Hansen's maternal grandparents, Dr. John and Marilyn Hales, both radiant with pride.
"We got a glimpse of Kate at the opening ceremony," said Marilyn Hales, who's watched every moment. "She was crying. I kind of got emotional just thinking about her being there with all the other athletes from all over the world."
Hansen's four runs totaled 3 minutes, 22.667 seconds, with teammate Erin Hamlin taking the bronze in 3:21.145 and German Natalie Geisenberger garnering gold in 3:19.768.
The performance was a happy surprise for La Cañada resident Patti Maloof, who attended both Los Gringos viewing parties to support her childhood friend, Kathie, Hansen's mother.
"We've been following Kate for 10 years as she's been on this journey. It's been an incredible roller-coaster ride — lots of triumphs, lots of tears," Maloof said. "To come this far, it's such an incredible feat, for the town and for her."
-- Sara Cardine