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.
The window of exposure for the bulk of winter Olympic athletes is incredibly small. Unless you are a big name, in a big sport (like snowboarding or figure skating) or happen to have a professional league through which to gain fame, your glorious moment in the public eye is extremely short.
But every so often, there is an opportunity to relish in that a bit longer, a chance to extend the whirlwind of winning an Olympic medal. I experienced that on a small scale after winning my bronze medal in 2014. It was a history-making, barrier-breaking feat so there was an abundance of circles that thought that was pretty cool. I found myself on the pitcher’s mound at a Mets game, sharing my story in front of thousands of people at college graduations and getting glammed up for Oscars after-parties in LA. Very out of my element, but really cool to experience!
This year, my teammate Chris Mazdzer followed in my footsteps (sort of…) and made the groundbreaking accomplishment for the men’s side of singles luge, winning our first medal in that discipline…ever! Of course he had to one-up my bronze and come home with silver, but I won’t hold it against him!
If any of you are one of the now tens of thousands of followers he has, you are familiar with his goofy, ham-it-up self who always loves a solid challenge, dunk in a frozen lake or any other adventurous activity! Well, right on par with his style, he is wowing the country with his skills on the dance floor this spring and I was able to be a tiny part of his post-Olympics ride, sitting in the audience at a recent episode of “Dancing with the Stars” (DWTS). I will say being a spectator at the show is almost as much work as dancing I’m sure (think constant clapping and standing ovations every other minute), but it was a blast to connect with some former teammates and see the behind-the-scenes action at the show! The glamorous world of TV looks so much different on the Hollywood side than it does in the sports broadcast world!
While wooing America with his charm and entertaining us all on a weekly basis, it is exciting to see him take full advantage of that ever-so-tiny window of opportunity we luge athletes get. It is great for our sport, its potential future successes and winter Olympic sports in the U.S. as a whole.
So many people have asked me over the years if I would ever be willing to do DWTS and my answer had always been an absolute yes. But now… think I might be all set! He has set the bar pretty high for luge athletes so I’m not sure I would want to follow in his footsteps!!