12.13.17 - 12/13/2017


Luge - a French word meaning toboggan - is a sport that involves flying down a twisting track made of ice at speeds faster than my truck can go. Unlike my truck, however, there are no seat belts on luge sleds and there are no guardrails on luge tracks. Winning in luge is pretty straightforward. The athletes who get down the hill the fastest win the medals. A second on a luge track is an eternity. Luge time is measured down to .001 seconds. I can’t blink my eyes that fast. But because sledders have finishing times that are so close, that kind of precision is needed. What brings this up today is that Remsen’s own Erin Hamlin is back in the news as the world starts focusing on the Olympics to be held in South Korea this coming February. The Associated Press reported this the other day: “Remsen's Erin Hamlin is going to the Olympics for the fourth and final time...Hamlin officially clinched her spot on the U.S. Olympic Team with a fourth-place singles finish.” Hamlin said she couldn’t be happier. She should be. Four times at the Olympics. Wow! For the record, luge made its Olympic debut at the 1964 Winter Games with three events -- men's, women's and doubles. Those three events have been a part of every Olympics since then. Anyway, when Erin Hamlin took the bronze medal in Sochi at the 2014 Winter Olympics, the Associated Press called it "a feat that will surely go down as perhaps the greatest moment in USA Luge history." For this coming Olympics, her luge team - Team USA - has a webpage and Erin is writing on it as we approach the upcoming winter games. This is the editor’s note which precedes her recent Team USA article: “Erin Hamlin has served as the face of luge in the United States for almost a decade. The three-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. Follow Hamlin’s journey to a fourth Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, as she writes for TeamUSA.org.” And here is part of what Erin wrote: “I am officially qualified for my fourth Olympics. That is insane to type. Starting this sport 18 years ago (making) the Olympic team was such a pipe dream, something to fantasize about and say ‘maybe someday.’ It offered motivation, a reason to sacrifice countless things while growing up (for myself and my family), as well as justification for such brutal moments I put my body through over the years. Money, energy and emotions all spent, whether readily available or not, to reach the pinnacle of representing the USA. Accomplishing it for a fourth time is just as exhilarating, inspiring and relieving as the first.” By the way, many years ago, when Erin was coming into her own, the Soda Fountain restaurant in Remsen, bursting with pride, named an ice cream sundae in her honor. The “Olympic Medalist Erin Hamlin Sundae” is vanilla ice cream layered with peanut butter, hot fudge, Oreos, Peanut Butter Cups and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. I just checked. The Erin Hamlin Sundae is still served at the Soda Fountain, which has this notation on its menu: “We Are Proud To Salute Our Hometown Olympian!” And so are many others.