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Life After Luge: Erin Hamlin Is Enjoying Life In Hometown, Awaiting First Child In December

By Joanne C. Gerstner | Sept. 09, 2020, 4:46 p.m. (ET)

Erin Hamlin of the United States reacts at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 13, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.


Erin Hamlin, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist in women’s luge, understood her life would radically change in retirement.

The first U.S. singles slider — male or female — to win an Olympic medal in the sport, Hamlin retired following the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, ending a career that lasted nearly two decades and still stands among the best in American history.

New chapters have been written since then. Hamlin married Jonathan Hodge in July 2018. She interned at Ernst & Young in 2019, as part of the company’s elite athlete program, and now is in her first year in a full-time job there. The couple also moved back their childhood hometown, the village of Remsen in upstate New York, and are now preparing for the next big adventure: having their first child. Hamlin and Hodge are due in early December.

A lot of good things are happening, and Hamlin is trying to appreciate all the moments.

“It’s definitely an exciting new chapter, and it seems like Dec. 9 is coming quickly,” said Hamlin, 33, who is waiting until the baby is born to learn its gender. “We’re slowly picking away at everything we need to do. It’s almost overwhelming, because there is such a large world of things for babies … there is so much stuff! You never feel 100 percent sure that you are making the right decisions, because we have never done this before. We’re trying to keep things as minimalist as possible, because we really don’t have a big house.”

Hamlin’s pregnancy is obviously different because of COVID-19. She isn’t sure if she can do an in-person baby shower in the coming months. Hodge watches her doctor visits via video chat, as she cannot have him come along due to rules to limit the virus’ spread. Hamlin is working from home and said the couple has been limiting visits from friends and family to protect themselves.


Hamlin is documenting some of the pregnancy on her social media, including a recent experience using a ratchet Allen key, a pretty notable luge tool, to help assemble a new crib. She said lugers are territorial about their keys and usually keep them for life out of habit. Hamlin enjoyed the reaction from her luge friends to the post, as they were flipping over the tool usage more than the couple’s strong crib construction.

“That ratchet Allen key is a huge thing in the luge world, a hot commodity,” she said. “And it turns out it is a good tool to have around the house too. I still have it in my collection. My friends laugh at my tool collection from luge, because they are definitely not common. But they work when you need to be pretty crafty.”

Hamlin started in luge when she was 12 and developed a trailblazing career. She became the first American woman to win a luge world title, which she did in 2009, and five years later won her historic Olympic bronze medal in Sochi. Before Hamlin, no woman from outside of Europe had stood on the Olympic podium in luge.

After another Olympic quad, culminating in her carrying the U.S. flag at the Opening Ceremony and finishing sixth in PyeongChang, Hamlin was ready to retire, she said. The journey has been challenging, though. Her identity, especially in her hometown, was of being Erin Hamlin, the Olympic athlete. She said people have seen her in the store, said hi and asked her how long she was in town for. They assumed she was just visiting, used to her being in training and competing around the world. 

Hamlin is now a regular person, with a 9-to-5 job, living in town — all a new thing for the residents to absorb.

“I don’t miss the process and the lifestyle, but I miss the people, the environment of luge,” she said. “I miss having that singular goal, that one thing that you are working for — it’s clear, cut and dry. It’s a good North Star. When you are a non-athlete, it’s more difficult to see that new North Star. Everything looks a lot different.

“It took longer for me to find that, to feel and see what the next path would be. I left my sport on good terms, my choice, everything good. You feel like you don’t have a right to be struggling — you feel guilty and tell yourself you should feel fortunate and not struggling. I feel very lucky that I have been able to find that new path because I have so much great support around me.”


Joanne C. Gerstner

Joanne C. Gerstner has covered two Olympic Games and writes regularly for The New York Times and other outlets about sports. She has written for TeamUSA.org since 2009 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.