PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Entering her fourth Winter Olympic Games, Remsen luger Erin Hamlin is looking to improve on her 2014 Sochi Games finish in which she brought home a bronze medal.
Hamlin is set to compete on Monday in the women’s singles event first and second runs, beginning at 5:50 a.m. EST, and again on Tuesday for the third and fourth runs starting at 5:30 a.m. EST. Remsen Jr./Sr. High School will be opening its doors to the public on Monday morning at 5 a.m. for a viewing of Hamlin’s runs.
The 31-year-old Hamlin has already announced that she will be retiring from competition after the Games are over.
“It’s an honor to compete for Team USA,” Hamlin said via email earlier this week before she learned that she would be selected to carry the American flag in Friday’s opening ceremony.
“Being able to compete on the world’s biggest sports stage and compete among the best athletes in the world across all sports is amazing. I love my country and what it stands for, as well as my local community, so to be able to represent all that is exciting and a privilege.”
Opening ceremonies remain a special event for the veteran Olympian, who referred to them as being “pretty unreal.” In addition to this year, she qualified for the Olympics in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
“I remember being curious as to how we would be received in another country,” Hamlin said. “I had watched the ceremony in 2002 in Salt Lake City, and it was such a huge roar when Team USA came in, and that is what most of my teammates had to compare it to as well.
“Obviously a home Olympics is huge, so in Italy (in 2006), I didn’t necessarily expect the same. But it was still really loud and pretty amazing. I actually somehow saw my family in the stands, which is so incredibly crazy because of the massive amounts of people and no way knowing where they are.”
She said the closing ceremony is also an emotional time.
“The closing ceremony is always a lot of fun because the countries are all usually mixed together and it’s more of a celebration of the events,” Hamlin explained.
A former soccer and track and field standout at Remsen Junior/Senior High School, Hamlin has made a name for herself on the world sports stage.
In addition to winning the bronze medal in 2014 to become the first American to ever medal in an Olympics singles luge race, Hamlin is a two-time world champion.
She finished the 2017-18 campaign ranked seventh in the overall World Cup standings.
The Associated Press projects Hamlin to win her second bronze medal next week, with Natalie Geisenberger of Germany picked to win the gold and Canadian Alex Gough picked to win the silver.
Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney are the other Americans who have qualified. Britcher is making her second Olympic trip, while Sweeney is making her first.
Hamlin recalled that her favorite Olympic run was her final run in Sochi.
“My final, fourth, run in Sochi was amazing,” Hamlin recalled. “I was going into it knowing how much time I had in the bank and that I really just had to have a clean run, to keep doing the same thing that I had been doing.”
Hamlin recalled there being a couple of trick spots on the Sochi track and thinking that if she “nailed those spots, I would be in pretty good shape.”
“When I got through the second one, I actually had thought in my mind, ‘Holy crap, I did it.’ And a lot of the time, when you finish a run, you don’t really know until you see your time whether it did the trick, but it was one that I knew was enough,” Hamlin said.
“With the amount of time I was ahead of fourth place and how my times had been, crushing a solid run meant I did what I needed to do. It was both a relief and a huge moment of excitement. I will never forget it.”
Along with training for the Olympics, Hamlin says that she tries to keep the same routine and same mindset she has going into every competition.
“Obviously it’s really hard to ignore the extra hype around the Olympics, but we try to look ahead to be able to have peak performance at the games,” Hamlin said. “I’ve always stayed true to what works for me, and that means keeping things consistent. We have a full-time training schedule every year, all year. It’s a full-time job.”
Hamlin doesn’t communicate just with her luge teammates. She’s also crossed paths with a lot of the other Team USA athletes when they’re all at team processing, when they get their gear for the games.
“Over the years, I have seen a lot of the same people, so you start to form friendships, which is cool, and the Olympics make that happen,” Hamlin said.
“Usually as winter athletes, we’re all competing and on the road at the same time during the season, so we rarely cross paths, but hanging out together in the athlete lounges and coming together to march in the opening and closing ceremonies and to cheer at other events allows us to meet a lot of people.”
Hamlin said that she has met U.S. snowboarding legend Shaun White before the opening ceremony in Sochi.
After the Pyeongchang Games, Hamlin said that she is going to take some time to relax and finish planning her wedding.
Long term, she isn’t “100 percent sure but looking forward to what opportunities are given and excited for new challenges and adventures.”