Luge star Hamlin reflects on Olympic journey

Luge star Hamlin reflects on Olympic journey

February 15, 2018 03:47 PM

Erin Hamlin is no stranger to the Olympics. She competed in 2006 in Italy and in Canada in 2010.

In 2014, the Remsen, New York native became the first American ever to win an Olympic medal in a luge singles event and the first American woman to win an Olympic luge medal.

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“Being able to set that example and show young American girls that you can do this sport and be successful and get on the podium... in that moment I think it was kind of like, ‘This could be big,” Hamlin said. “I think it also shook up our sport a little bit.”

Up to that point, only a handful of countries had dominated the podium.

“Germany had been completely owning the podium for so long that it was kind of getting a little monotonous in our racing. Finally getting another flag on that podium opened the floodgates a little bit,” Hamlin said.

How did her journey begin? Hamlin says it all started when she was nine years old and watching the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

That's right, the Summer Olympics. She was a gymnast at the time and couldn't get enough of the U.S. Women's Team – The Magnificent Seven as they came to be known.

“It was just a phenomenal performance and having strong female athletes my whole life and having it be so normal for female athletes to do amazing things and make history... I am of that generation where to me it was like, 'Cool, I want to do that too and there's no reason I can't,'” Hamlin said.

Then came the USA luge slider search in 1999.

“Kind of [on] a whim just decided that it would be something cool to try,” Hamlin said.

She says at the time she never imagined how far it would take her. She has realized a childhood dream, made Olympic history and broken new ground for women in luge. What are her hopes for the 2018 Winter Olympics?

“I'm gonna go for the podium just like anybody else. But if I have four solid runs that I feel confident in and I know I went as fast as I could, if that doesn't land me on the podium then you know it wasn't my race,” Hamlin said.

What comes after the Olympics? Hamlin says she has a lot of decisions to make. She admits she's considering retirement, taking in everything this season in case it's her last. But she says she has no regrets.

“Seeing how far women’s sports have come and to kind of be a part of that and pushing it into the next generation and continuing to push the envelope and be among the female athletes that are breaking down barriers is pretty cool,” Hamlin said. “It's an honor.”

And she is getting ready for another big adventure this year. She's getting married in July.

WEB EXTRA: Erin Hamlin on her post-Olympic plans

WEB EXTRA: Erin Hamlin talks about the slider search


WNYT Staff

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