February 6, 2014

Erin Hamlin ’11 Competes in Luge at XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

Hamlin Joins Student Ashley Caldwell on the US Team and Tony Benshoof ’08 as Three-time Olympian

SUNY Empire State College alumna Erin M. Hamlin ’11, will compete in her third consecutive Winter Olympic Games in luge, women’s singles.

Erin M. Hamlin '11/Photo USA Luge

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Feb. 6, 2013) SUNY Empire State College alumna Erin M. Hamlin ’11 will compete in her third consecutive Winter Olympic Games in luge, women’s singles.

A former world and three-time national champion, the 27-year-old Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y., earned her A.A. in interdisciplinary studies online through the college’s Center for Distance Learning.

The opening ceremony for the games takes place Friday, Feb. 7, and competition for luge, women’s singles, begins Monday, Feb. 10.

“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 to 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.”

Hamlin said that she feels more than prepared to continue her education at DeVry University, an official education provider of the United States Olympic Committee, and fortunate to have first experienced distance learning with Empire State College.

“Congratulations and best of luck go to three-time Olympian and Empire State College alumna Erin Hamlin,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “Erin’s success in completing her degree is all the more remarkable given the demands of training, travel and competition that she faces as a world-class athlete.”

“On behalf of everyone at the Center for Distance Learning, we send our congratulations to Erin Hamlin for making the U.S. Olympic Team three times in a row,” said Tom Mackey, dean of the college’s Center for Distance Learning. “We will be following Erin's progress and cheering her on at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.  Everyone at CDL is so proud of all of Erin's academic and athletic achievements and we wish her the best as she continues on her exceptional journey.”

She joins Empire State College student Ashley Caldwell, who will compete in freestyle skiing, women’s aerials, as a member of Team USA. Hamlin is the second of the college’s 70,000 alumni to earn a place on three consecutive U.S. Olympic teams.

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, and 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.

“Erin, like so many other members of Team USA, has a great chance of winning a medal at Sochi,” said Benshoof. “As her former U.S. Olympic and USA Luge national teammate, I know that Erin always brings up her level of intensity on race day.”

Benshoof, like Hamlin and soon Caldwell, completed his degree, a B.S. in business, management and economics, online through the college’s Center for Distance Learning.

“I was actually finishing up an exam the night before my last Olympic race, which helped me to relax and get my mind off luge for a while,” said Benshoof. “Completing a bachelor’s was always an important goal of mine and I enjoyed the flexibility of studying online with Empire State College while I traveled across the country and around the world.”

The nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, Empire State College educates many of its students online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

Benshoof, Caldwell and Hamlin are representative of the increased focus and heightened awareness of the nontraditional pathway to degree completion via Empire State College and Open SUNY.

Open SUNY is the systemwide effort designed to maximize online-enabled learning opportunities for all SUNY students across 64 campuses. Nearly 7 million New Yorkers have a high school diploma, but have not earned a college degree.

Two of Empire State College’s online bachelor’s programs were selected for Open SUNY because they meet New York’s workforce needs and expand access, completion and success for students.

SUNY Empire State College alumna Erin M. Hamlin ’11 will compete in her third consecutive Winter Olympic Games in luge, women’s singles.

Erin M. Hamlin '11, compeiting at the 2013 Viessman Luge World Cup. Photo/USA Luge © Margot Wholey

About Erin Hamlin

In addition to competing in three consecutive Winter Olympics, Hamlin was the gold medalist in 2009 at the World Championships held in Lake Placid, N.Y. She 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.

The college community will be following Hamlin as she competes in the XXII Olympic Winter Games on Twitter @ErinHamlin, liking her on Facebook and watching her on TV.

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 Tony Benshoof

In addition to competing in three consecutive Olympics, Benshoof is a seven-time U.S. national champion and leads Americans in winning international competitions in luge, men’s singles, with 37 medals.

According to the “Guinness Book of World Records,” Benshoof set the world’s fastest luge speed, 86.6 mph, Oct. 16, 2001, a record which still stands today.

In 2011, after more than 22 years, he retired from the U.S. national luge team. His last international competition was the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, held in Vancouver.

A native of St. Paul, Minn., Benshoof lives in White Bear Lake, Minn., and in the off-season enjoys waterskiing, motorcycling, photography, playing guitar and piano and camping.

The college follows Benshoof on Twitter, @TonyBenshoof. More information about Benshoof is available by visiting his website, http://www.tonybenshoof.com/

About Ashley Caldwell

A native of Ashburn, Va., Caldwell was a competitive gymnast for 11 years before she watched Olympic skiing on TV and thought it would be “totally awesome” to try aerials. After only three years of training, Caldwell made the U.S. Ski Team at a selection event in the beginning of the 2010 season and then went on to an outstanding rookie season.

Later that year, at the age of 16, Caldwell claimed top 15 results in her first three World Cup competitions. She finished 10th at the Olympics and claimed a silver medal at the U.S. National Championships, a feat she repeated in 2011.

Then, in December of 2011 and again in 2012, Caldwell sustained serious injuries to both her right and left ACLs (anterior cruciate ligaments). Overcoming both injuries, she earned a silver medal in women’s aerials at the World Cup competition held Dec. 15, 2013 in Lake Beida, China, on her road to Sochi.

The college community will be following Caldwell as she competes in the XXII Olympic Winter Games on Twitter, @AshleySkis; liking her on Facebook; and watching her on TV. Opening ceremonies for the games take place Friday, Feb. 7 and Caldwell’s competition is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 14.

More information about Caldwell is available on the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and the U.S. Ski team websites: http://www.teamusa.org/Athletes/CA/Ashley-Caldwell, http://freestyle.usskiteam.com/athletes/ashley-caldwell.

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, http://www.usaluge.org/facts; 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