Sochi, Russian Federation (4E Sports) – Erin Hamlin captured the bronze medal in singles luge in the Sochi Winter Games, becoming the first American to win a medal in the event.
“It’s surreal,” the 27-year-old Hamlin said. “I had four great runs. I came here with no expectations and this is beyond what I imagined.”
As expected, Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger won gold in 3:19.768, followed by compatriot Tatjana Hufner (3:20.907), giving Germany 31 of the 42 medals awarded in the Olympics for the women’s luge.
Hamlin, who finished with a time of 3:21.145, reached the podium ahead of Canada’s Alex Gough, Germany’s Anke Wischnewski and three Russians.
The finish came as a surprise for Hamlin, who hasn’t finish in the top three in a World Cup race since 2011-12, and her 2009 world championship is ages ago.
However, she put herself in medal contention with the second-fastest time in the first run on Monday and was third after two heats, becoming just the second American woman to finish in the top three after two heats in an Olympic race, joining Courtney Zablocki, who was third after two runs at the 2006 Torino Games.
She built a .355-second lead over Gough in her third heat and needed a run with minimal mistakes to claim bronze. That’s exactly what she did.
“When I went into that third-to-last curve I thought to myself, ‘I think I just did it,’ ” Hamlin said. “Luge isn’t the biggest sport at home, and we’ve never won an individual medal. Hopefully this gives it a boost, I’m happy to pave the way to the future.”