Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

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Fans at Family's Restaurant Cheer on SoCal Luger Kate Hansen in Olympics Debut

Kate Hansen's supporters will cheer her on this week as she competes in her first Olympics

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Monday, Feb 10, 2014  |  Updated 5:16 PM PDT
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Kate Hansen's fans pack her family's restaurant to watch her Olympics debut. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Monday Feb. 10, 2014.

Kate Hansen's fans pack her family's restaurant to watch her Olympics debut. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Monday Feb. 10, 2014.

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Family, friends and probably even complete strangers gathered Monday to watch Southern California's Kate Hansen make her Olympics debut in luge.

Supporters are invited to her family's Los Gringos Locos restaurant in La Canada for this week's viewing parties during the competition runs. The Sochi Games mark the La Canada High School graduate's first Olympics.

The best wishes include a billboard towering over Foothill Boulevard that read, "Congratulations Kate! Go for Gold!" It features Hansen speeding down a luge course.

"(Family members) say they keep getting all these people coming up to them and wishing me good luck -- people we don't even know," Hansen said. "It's just overwhelming support."

Hansen, who has been involved in luge since she was 10, is coming off a training accident in October in which she broke her foot. Despite the injury, she went on to win the USA Luge National Championship with a cast on her foot.

Hansen was 10th Monday after Run 2 -- one of three U.S. competitors in the top-15.

Germany's Natalie Geisenberger appears to have the inside track on an Olympic gold medal. She finished the first two runs of the women's luge competition in 1 minute, 39.814 seconds. That's 0.766 seconds better than her countrywoman Tatjana Huefner, who took the title at the Vancouver Games.

Erin Hamlin — vying to be the first American to win a singles luge medal at the Olympics — was second after the first heat, then slipped to third at the midway point after losing about a tenth of a second to Huefner in her second trip down the Sanki Sliding Center track.

Three times in Olympic singles luge history, a U.S. man or woman has finished in fourth. The U.S. has four Olympic luge medals, all in doubles, two silver and two bronze.

By comparison, Germany — if combining the days when the nation was split into East and West — has 52 Olympic singles luge medals, 71 overall at the games. That's about a couple dozen more than all other nations combined, and it's a tally that is almost certainly going to rise when Geisenberger finishes her fourth run to complete her long-awaited coronation as the sport's undisputed best.

Monday's viewing party at Los Gringos Locos restaurant is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. to noon. Tuesday's party is 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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