Erin Hamlin is going to another Olympics.
Hamlin, a three-time Olympian and considered the most decorated U.S. singles slider in history, earned her fourth Olympic berth on Sunday after finishing fourth at the FIL World Cup women’s singles race in Winterberg, Germany.
The U.S. luge standout earned a silver medal at the world championships last season, which pre-qualified her to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Luge Team, and had the chance to verify her spot at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 with a top-five world cup finish in a non-domestic race this season or a top-three finish at the Lake Placid World Cup, which takes place Dec. 15-16.
She didn’t have to wait long. The 31-year-old clocked a two-run time of 1:54.042 in Winterberg, the second world cup of the season, to book her ticket to South Korea.
Afterward, she tweeted, “And now I can breathe.”
“I was pre-qualified, but that doesn’t give me a spot on the team,” she said via conference call from Germany on Sunday afternoon. “I felt the pressure and wasn’t comfortable at all. This team is so deep right now and I had to get that spot; there definitely were no handouts. I’m glad I got it.”
Teammate Summer Britcher, a 2012 Youth Olympian and 2014 Olympian, earned bronze. Emily Sweeney was tied with Britcher for second after the first heat, but ultimately finished eighth.
Hamlin was the only athlete in any luge discipline to pre-qualify last season. USA Luge will name nine other Olympians – two women, three men and two doubles teams – following the Lake Placid World Cup.
Hamlin secured her legacy in U.S. luge with her bronze medal at the Sochi Games, making her the first American to win an Olympic singles luge medal. But her résumé is much longer than that.
A native of Remsen, New York, Hamlin made her Olympic debut in 2006 when she was just a teenager, and three years later she won the 2009 world title on her home track in Lake Placid, New York, becoming the first U.S. woman to win a world title. That led to two more Olympic berths, in Vancouver and Sochi.
Hamlin is coming off arguably her best season, having won a world title in the sprint event while finishing second in both the singles race and team relay last season. She also finished fourth in the overall world cup standings, tying her career bests from 2009-10 and 2015-16.
Hamlin will be just the second U.S. women’s luger to compete at four Games, following Cameron Myler (1988-98).
She said it feels just as good to make the team now as it did earlier in her career.
“Most athletes I know avoid the topic and talking about the Games and have that superstition when technically we’re not part of the Games yet,” she said. “To have that gone is a relief. When I was younger and made the team unexpectedly, obviously there wasn’t that sense of relief, but it’s still just as exciting.”
Hamlin confirmed on Sunday that she will retire following this season.