Erin Hamlin wins in Lillehammer
LILLEHAMMER, Norway — The last time Erin Hamlin was in a luge race, she was in the Sochi team relay. That was two days after capping the first Olympic singles medal in United States history.
At the end of a week-long training camp Saturday in Lillehammer, Hamlin, unlike her medal-winning effort in February, came from behind to overtake German Julia Orlamuender and collected the gold medal in the preseason Lillehammer Cup.
"Everything came together really well. I just aimed to be consistent and comfortable," said the Remsen, New York, racer. "The runs weren’t ideal, considering I had really good training most of the time. In the first run, my lines at the top of the track were a little bit off, which costs a lot here. Second run was a lot better, but I had to work a little bit harder for the clean run than I would have liked."
The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist found speed at the bottom of the 1994 Olympic track, which will host a World Cup event this winter and the 2016 Youth Olympic Games. Hamlin posted times of 48.674 and 48.969 seconds for a combined time of 1:37.643.
Julia Clukey — a 2010 Olympian, 2013 World Cup silver medalist in Lake Placid and seven-time winner of the team’s annual start competition, was third at the halfway mark of the race. She was a force in both legs and trailed Hamlin by just 0.01 of a second at the break. But the Augusta, Maine, competitor lost time at the end of the final run and dropped to fourth overall.
Orlamuender took the opening run lead by 0.17 of a second over Hamlin, before settling for the silver medal in 1:37.737. Andrea Voetter, of Italy, finished third, 0.23 of a second behind the American.
Tucker West, 2014 Olympian from Ridgefield, Connecticut, was sixth in a field dominated by rising Italian star Dominick Fischnaller. He, too, wrote the comeback story in the second run, as Fischnaller, sixth in Sochi, overtook Kristaps Maurins of Latvia, claiming victory by just 0.001 of a second.
West, the youngest male to ever make the U.S. Olympic Luge Team, totaled 1:40.494. He was sixth best in both heats.
"The race today was a great confidence boost for the upcoming season," said West, now a freshman at Union College in Schenectady, New York. "Although my runs weren’t as clean as I would hope them to be in a race, I showed myself that there is some promising potential for speed, that hopefully I’ll be able to tap into within the coming year.
"I was a little nervous about the new sled setup, however, after a few minor tweaks I feel extremely confident in what I am riding, and can’t wait to fine tune it more and more as the season progresses."
The new U.S. duo of Matt Mortensen, of Huntington Station, New York, and Jayson Terdiman, of Berwick, Pennsylvania, took seventh in 1:37.856. Both slid in Sochi with different sled mates and had just 17 runs together prior to this week. They competed with their sled duct taped for preservation, affecting their aerodynamics properties.
Hamlin and most of her teammates will be off the ice for the next week as Lake Placid prepares to open its track, weather permitting, on Oct. 18. Mazdzer will go on for additional training in Sigulda, Latvia, this week. The venue will host the 2015 World Championships.
Hamlin, the three-time Olympian and 2009 World Champion, has amassed approximately 40 runs thus far, and will have much more training to start the season, given its late November opening.
"Even with the late start to the World Cup season this year, having a lot of time on the sled early is pretty crucial," she continued. "When you’re in a sport that can only be done half of the year, you always need to take full advantage when there’s ice.
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The Miners kicked off their summer offseason program to gear up for the new challenge that awaits them in Class 5A.