Erin Hamlin is a world champion luger. The 22-year-old Remsen woman put together two first-place, track-record runs to win her first World Cup medal at the Luge World Championship at her home track.
Erin Hamlin is a world champion luger.
How do you say more than that?
“I couldn’t tell you,” said Hamlin’s father, Ron. “How do you explain it?”
The 22-year-old Remsen woman put together two first-place, track-record runs to win her first World Cup medal at the Luge World Championship at her home track.
It was the home-track advantage that allowed Hamlin to race as she never has before. Hamlin is the first U.S. woman to win a luge championship medal, and only the second American to ever win a medal in luging.
“She attacked everything,” said U.S. Senior National Team coach Wolfgang Schaedler after the medal ceremony. “It’s unbelievable. She is a world champion now, and no one can take that away from her.”
Hamlin learned to slide at Lake Placid after getting into an entry program sponsored by Verizon, her father’s employer. She climbed the ranks of junior competition, and unexpectedly raced her way onto the 2006 Olympic team in Torino, Italy.
On Friday after the win, Hamlin was greeted on the track by a few bare-chested fans with body paint, including her brother, Ryan. Erin Hamlin had a big smile on her face as she hugged her older brother, and the smile remained as she waved to the large, rowdy crowd of friends and family. More than 100 Hamlin supporters made the trip from Remsen, including about 30 on a bus chartered by Hamlin’s aunt, Carol Buczek.
“There’s no better place to do it,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin, who was the fourth slider in the first run as a result of Thursday night draw, took first place right away with a personal competition-best time of 44.113 seconds. Hamlin followed her usual routine of between-race relaxation and relied on her experience with the track to come back more than an hour later with a similar run in 44.021. Her combined time was 1 minute, 28.098 seconds.
“It’s starting to sink in,” Hamlin said later, surrounded by the media. “When I heard the worlds were going to be here, I thought this is going to be the best chance for me, but I figured it would be further in the future.”
Natalie Geisenberger of Germany was second (1:28.285), followed by first-time medal winner Natalia Yakushenko of the Ukraine.
“I’m very happy,” Yakushenko said through an interpreter.
World Cup series standings leader Tatjana Hufner of Germany was seventh.
Hamlin’s victory breaks a firm German luge winning streak. Hamlin is the first non-German to win a World Championship since 1993 when Italy’s Gerda Weissensteiner won the title in
Calgary. That year was also the last time an American won a World title when Wendel Sukow of Marquette, Mich., won the men’s championship in Calgary.
Prior to Friday, the Germans had a 99-international event winning streak counting world championships, World Cup series races and the Olympics.
“It’s a hard dynasty to beat,” Hamlin said. “It feels great.”
She added that it will take a lot of work to compete with the Germans on a consistent basis.
Hamlin’s victory is more amazing considering about 24 hours before she was sequestered in a dark room, resting from migraine symptoms that developed between her training runs Thursday.
During the evening, Hamlin said she had better days but was going to give herself time to get some sleep and had no doubts about competing Friday.
“Oh, yeah, definitely,” Hamlin said Thursday evening.
She downplayed the headache after her victory, answering reporters’ questions that she has had them before and she just deals with it.
“I’m just glad I got over that and came out 100 percent,” she said.