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February 12, 2014

Lake Placid's Hamlin wins bronze

Lake Placid resident delivers first USA women's Olympic luge medal

LAKE PLACID — The number 11 proved fortuitous for women’s luge Olympian Erin Hamlin.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, wearing No. 11, she earned the bronze Olympic medal for TeamUSA.

USA Luge teammate Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake beamed a Twitter message worldwide within minutes: “Erin gets the first ever women’s (luge) medal in U.S. history!!!”

It was a cherished goal for the 27-year-old athlete, who lives in Lake Placid and trains with the USA Luge team here.

“I don’t think, ‘Oh, I want to make history’ as much as I want to get a medal,” Erin said in a statement before Tuesday’s competition.

“I did once before, and I didn’t even think about it then, so maybe that’s the way to go. I’m just trying to set everything up, have fun and be happy with my runs. That’s the bottom line.”

COPING WITH LOSS

Erin pushed through the last weeks of Olympic training bearing an invisible weight of grief.

Her grandmother, Joan F. Hamlin, died in a tragic car crash in Trenton last December, just two days after Erin placed for Olympic competition in Sochi. 

“It was extremely difficult to be completely all in the race when I know my family is all at home and something tragic has happened,” Erin told the Associated Press in an interview a few days ago.

“I can’t change it. She would be disappointed if I let it affect me too badly and decided against doing things, as far as the Olympics. I’ll try to do things that wouldn’t have disappointed her, I guess.”

‘TOUGH COOKIE’

Erin’s mom, Eileen, is in Sochi with a large family contingent, including Erin’s dad and brothers. The family shared the Olympian’s achievement.

“Erin’s a tough cookie,” Eileen Hamlin told AP before the races began Monday.

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