February 12, 2014

Erin Hamlin ’11 Wins Bronze at Sochi, Makes U.S. Olympic History

Three-time Olympian is First American to Win Olympic Medal in Luge Singles

Erin Hamlin ’11 replies to questions at a press conference immediately after winning a bronze medal in luge, women’s singles, at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Erin Hamlin ’11, replies to questions at a press conference immediately after winning a bronze medal in luge, women’s singles, at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Photo/USA Luge

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Feb. 12, 2014) Erin Hamlin ‘11, a three-time Olympian and an alumna of SUNY Empire State College, has made U.S. Olympic history by winning the bronze medal, luge, women’s singles, at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

The 27-year-old of Remsen N.Y. is the first U.S. singles luger ever to win a medal in Olympic competition.

“I came in with no expectations, which was huge,” said Hamlin. “Training started to go really well and I got comfortable on the track early in the week. I started having pretty solid runs and so I thought this (winning a medal) could happen.”

Women’s singles comprises four runs over a two-day span. The competitor with the lowest combined elapsed time wins. Speeds on the luge track at the Sanki Sliding Center exceeded 83 mph.

“There was no point where I thought it was locked up,” said Hamlin. “Alex (Alex Gough of Canada) was right behind me and she’s a really amazing slider, so at no point did I feel comfortable with my spot. I knew I had to have a solid run again and I couldn’t just wing it. I did feel like I had to do the same thing again, I did it all week in training, had good runs, I had already done it three times in the race, so I thought one more, one more.”

“Congratulations to Empire State College alumna Erin Hamlin for making U.S. Olympic history,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “Your hard work, persistence and determination have produced a historic medal-winning performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics and all of us at Empire State College, especially our 70,000 alumni, are very proud of you.”

“Erin’s win is an outstanding achievement by a hard-working and dedicated athlete, one that all of SUNY, New York and the nation can be proud of,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Congratulations to Erin and best of luck to all of the SUNY students and alumni competing at Sochi.”

Erin Hamlin '11 surrounded by her parents, brothers and friend. Her coach, two-time Olympic medalist and USA Luge program director Mark Grimmett, kneels in front.

Erin Hamlin ’11, center, is surrounded by friends and family, including her brothers Ryan and Sean, and parents, Eileen and Ron. Kneeling is Hamlin’s coach, USA Luge program director and two-time Olympic medalist Mark Grimmette. Photo/USA Luge

Hamlin earned her A.A. in interdisciplinary studies online through the college’s Center for Distance Learning.

“I had a great experience with everyone I worked with at Empire State College,” said Hamlin. “It was the first college situation that was affordable and easy to manage while training and competing. Renee O'Brien was my advisor and mentor, as well as photography professor, and she helped me adjust classes and worked with my busy schedule, so I could complete my degree as efficiently as possible. As a proud New Yorker, I was very glad to have a state school program that fit my lifestyle.”

As with past Olympics, Hamlin’s family traveled to be with her at the competition.

“They’ve been the best support system my entire career,” said Hamlin. “They’ve trucked to foreign countries for every Olympics, they came all the way to Russia and had a pretty interesting travel day here, so being able have them here is amazing and I am so excited.”

“It was surreal to see Erin Hamlin win an Olympic medal yesterday,” said two-time Olympian and Empire State College student Ashley Caldwell. “I'm extremely happy for Erin.” Caldwell competes later this week in freestyle skiing, women’s aerials, and has completed all requirements for her B.S. in business, management and economics and graduates this spring. Like Hamlin, Caldwell studied online through the college’s Center for Distance Learning.

Hamlin is the second of the college’s alumni to compete in three consecutive Olympics. The first, Tony Benshoof ’08, competed in luge, men’s singles, in 2002 and 2006, where he finished fourth, and in the 2010 winter games. He coached 2014 U.S. Olympic luge team members Summer Britcher, Tucker West and Aiden Kelly at this year’s Junior World Championships held at Igls, Austria.

“I’m happy Erin was able to reach the Olympic podium in women’s singles,” said Benshoof ’08, who, like Caldwell and Hamlin, earned his degree, a B.S. in business, management and economics, online through the Center for Distance Learning. “She worked very hard with her coaches and together with her support staff, friends and family, Erin has been able break through and to win an Olympic medal.”

Hamlin was the gold medalist in 2009 at the World Championships held in Lake Placid, N.Y. She also was the 2008 Verizon U.S. National Champion and the 2009 and 2010 Norton U.S. National Champion.

A sectional all-star in soccer and track while attending Remsen Junior/Senior High School, her favorite athlete is soccer’s Mia Hamm.

More about Hamlin is available by visiting the United States Olympic Committee Team USA website, http://www.teamusa.org/Athletes/HA/Erin-Hamlin#profile; the USA Luge National Team website, http://www.usaluge.org/athlete?id=37; and her personal website, www.erinhamlin.com.

About USA Luge

Construction of the nation's first refrigerated luge run was completed in 1979 as part of the 1980 XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid. During that time period, USA Luge was formed as the sport's National Governing Body.

Since its inception, USA Luge has overseen the selection and preparation of the U.S. National and Olympic luge teams. In addition, a national network of luge clubs, as well as a comprehensive recruitment program, also has been developed, giving USA Luge improved depth at every level of participation.

Learn more about the history of luge competition and USA Luge at http://www.usaluge.org/history.

USA Luge fast facts, including video, are available at http://www.usaluge.org/facts.

Follow USA Luge on Twitter, @USA_Luge; like USA Luge on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/LugeUSA; and watch them on TV.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career. Students engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace they choose.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in the state of New York and online. Its 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more. More information about the college is available here.


SUNY Empire State College media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

518-587-2100, ext. 2918


518-321-7038 (after hours and weekends)

USA Luge media contact: Gordy Sheer, director of marketing and sponsorship

Sheer is with the U.S. Olympic Team in Sochi, Russia.

For Calls originating in Russia: 9250079 410

For Calls originating in the USA: 0117 9250 079 410


USA Luge, 57 Church Street, Lake Placid, NY

Office: 518-523-2071, ext. 102

Cell: 518-637-1586

Fax: 518-523-4106