Erin Hamlin Is Key to US Luge Team Relay Medal After Historic Performance

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2014

Erin Hamlin of the United States waves the flag after finishing her final run to win the bronze medalduring the women's singles luge competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

Erin Hamlin ended a 50-year luge-medal drought for the United States with her individual luge bronze medal, but her work is far from done at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, with the team relay on the horizon.

But first, the good.

Hamlin posted a total time of 3 minutes, 21.145 seconds in the solo event on Feb. 11 to score a bronze medal, finishing just behind the German duo of Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Huefner, who finished with gold and silver, respectively.

As Tom Withers of the Associated Press details, it was quite the historic moment at the podium, as Withers' colleague Tim Reynolds helped to illustrate:

Hamlin herself told reporters after the event she came to Sochi with redemption in mind and is hopeful that her historic moment will help further the sport, via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

I'm stoked. Who knew? I definitely pictured it. It was a big goal of mine. After [the 2010 Games] I was really disappointed, and I knew that's not how I wanted my Olympic legacy to end. It was super-motivating.

Luge isn't the biggest sport at home. Hopefully this gives it a boost, I'm happy to pave the way to the future. Hopefully, it means we get a little more attention, some more funding so we can spread the numbers and a get a lot more kids involved and going forward just get stronger.

Keep in mind, Hamlin's win is the first for a U.S. Olympian in the event—male or female. Her propensity to make history is high considering she also became the first American woman to win a World Luge Championship back in 2009.

Now, Hamlin has another shot at history as she can propel the United States to a medal in the inaugural luge team relay.

Outside of the obvious difficulty of the new competition, Hamlin will also have to deal with her sudden celebrity, which is surely something that will unintentionally work to distract her as she focuses on the next event.

Wayne Drehs of ESPNW provided a brief glimpse into how chaotic Hamlin's life just became:

It was one of those Olympic moments you can never predict. A few weeks ago, most of America had never heard of Erin Hamlin. And even luge junkies overlooked her this week. She hadn't medaled the entire World Cup season and arrived in Sochi the sixth-ranked slider in the world. But then everything changed. Producers from the "Today" show, Ellen DeGeneres and CNN had already called her publicist within hours of her podium finish.

Hamlin leads the four-person team for the U.S. in the event, which also consists of Christopher Mazdzer, Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman. Hamlin leads on a single sled as Crew 1, while Mazdzer follows as Crew 2. Crew 3 consists of Niccum and Terdiman, and all sledders will not be able to get out of their gates until the previous sled hits the finish line.

Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

The Germans remain the heavy favorites in the event after historically dominating any event that includes sliding, but Hamlin's recent triumph offers a glimmer of hope for the U.S. if she can remain in form, a form her teammates will somehow have to match to reach the podium.

The U.S. team will have to start fast, but it is in good hands with Hamlin. If she can reach the podium once more, an unbelievable performance in the Games thus far will reach indescribable levels for Hamlin.


Note: All info courtesy of unless otherwise specified.


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