Erin Hamlin has served as the face of luge in the United States for almost a decade. The four-time Olympian is the most decorated U.S. singles slider in history, having first won world championship gold in 2009 before winning three medals at the 2017 event – gold in sprint, silver in singles and team relay. In 2014, Hamlin earned bronze at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 to become the first U.S. singles luger ever to earn an Olympic medal.
Throughout my entire 18-year career, my dad has been able to sit at the finish line and recite split times, has memorized which ones are good and bad, and has followed point rankings closer than I do. He will usually have my race schedule memorized before I even know which day I compete each weekend. I also don’t think he has ever missed a race on home ice in Lake Placid.
This dedication to standing in the cold with his signature beard and head-to-toe wool clothing combo, or waking up with my mom in the middle of the night to watch from home, has always been such a source of comfort, encouragement and grounding.
I know most parents strive to be there and support their children in all of their endeavors, but my crazy luge journey definitely required a bit more dedication and a tad more sacrifice than the average parent may have signed up for.
“Fella” as he is known to most, will be the first one to dole out some advice (“your body is a temple” or “buff your [luge] booties”), but more than that has shown by example how to live every day to the fullest, embrace each moment in life, and excel with confidence but always stay humble.
He is always ready to be spur of the moment and would show up at a race when he could, which was much more often the last few years since he is now retired. An official luge groupie, he was able to travel from place to place around our North American leg of the season and become a staple in the stands. It has always been great to share the places I travel and excitement of racing atmosphere with my family, the few times I was able to.
While training at home the last few summers, I am very thankful to have had him around to keep things fresh…a bike ride here, kayak there, Frisbee golf challenge thrown in somewhere in between – always motivating me and finding different ways to stay active during recovery days and shaking things up instead of just being in the gym all day (also known as helping me to productively procrastinate).
That being said, he was never far away when it was time to get down to business…shuttling my sled and me up the hill in the ranger after reps of paddle training as well as videoing when I needed impromptu coaching sessions. From my work ethic and competitive spirit, to our love of old VW’s and the stubbornness that gets us both in trouble sometimes, I can definitely say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree and it has helped me succeed in more ways than I could have imagined!