I'm Olympic Luger Erin Hamlin. Want to know what it's like to slide down a track at 90 mph without looking? Ask me Anything as I getting ready to to qualify for the Winter Games.
Time is up! Thanks for all the great questions! Keep up with my journey on social: @erinhamlin!
I'm Erin Hamlin- professional sledder. 3x Olympian, World Champion and 2014 Olympic medalist in luge! I go 90 mph for fun. AMA!
Check out all Winter Olympic AMAs at reddit.com/user/TeamUSAOlympics
Ghostface killah for sure
How do you get started in a sport like luge? Did your middle school have a luge track and bulletproof liability insurance?
Definitely not! USA Luge recruits through summer wheel clinics (called the slider search) and it is basically an open call tryout. I attended one in Syracuse, NY when I was 12, pretty much on a whim.
So, since hurtling down a track at 90 mph doesn't faze you, what freaks you out in life?
Butterflies too, or just moths?
Just moths really...
What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven a car?
Never over the legal limit ;)
Nice try, FBI.
I've never gotten a speeding ticket....so there's that. knocks on wood
Why luge and not skeleton? How similar / different are they?
I was exposed to luge first...we have to start much younger in this sport. Skeleton generally pulls athletes form track and field or other sports that involve sprinting. The main similarity is that we use the same track...after that it is very different. Obviously luge is feet first, skeleton head first. But luge is actually the most difficult and takes the longest to master. Because we have more driving ability it also means there is more room for error and the results of them are a bit more drastic.
Great answer thank you! Every winter Olympics I'm fascinated... But then forget about it. Sorry you're probably sick of people with that attitude!
More used to it than sick of it. We'll take what we can get! I appreciate the honesty...but there is a lot going on even outside of Olympic years...just saying.
How long did it take you to get used to it without being scared? Do the sleds ever lose control?
It definitely takes time to get used to the flow of sliding and how driving a sled works. Years of experience is what makes a successful athlete. Up until probably a few years ago I was definitely still learning a lot! Often they do lose control, learning how to handle it and getting it back under control is one of the best things to learn, and is what takes time!
Ok so please please do not take offense, I seriously know nothing about this sport but i find it fascinating.....what makes one person better at it than another? Like how do you train for this, or like edge out other people if you are just riding in something? Or is that bobsled? Congrats and good luck!
So with luge, I am (hopefully) completely in control the entire time...we can control/drive the sled with our legs, handles, and slight shifting of body weight. So have a really good feeling of the sled and the track is what makes people fast. The start is also important, unlike bobsled and skeleton we are seated and pull off of handles. A lot of upper body and core strength makes a great luge starter so that is another way to edge out others.
Do people often want to tell you Cool Runnings jokes? Do you correct them? Good luck to you.
All the time! And yes, I definitely correct them, haha. Thank you!
Luge sounds like it's really fun but also really scary? What was your scariest moment in the sport?
I have had a few crashes that shook me up pretty good...once I barrel rolled...somehow landed back on my sled though. That was definitely not fun. I try not to dwell on the bad parts after learning what I can from them and moving on. So I honestly cannot pick out a single most terrible moment.
well good job and keep at it. We will all be cheering for you. GO USA!
Erin. Sometimes I struggle with working out around my busy schedule. Got any tips for working out in a hotel room? airport? when you only have 15 minutes? :)
Get your heart rate up any way you can, and keep it there for 10 min! It will probably take you 5 to get it there... bodyweight squats, mountain climbers, burpees (the worst...but effective), planks (and any variation of them), lunges, v-ups/situps, pushups (from feet or knee). A jumprope is a great way to jack your heart rate up quick..and small so easy to pack. Really anything that keeps you moving. All of these are easy to google/youtube if you aren't sure what they are!
Agreed... Burpees are the worst but definitely makes me pant in the end. Thanks for the tips!
You ever seen anybody fly over the guard rail?
Do you have a race day pump up song? Any jam that really gets you going?
Nothing specific...I love Macklemore, Grace Potter, Ed Sheeran (not necessarily for pumping up), Jack Johnson...I'm not a big get pumped person. Thankfully luge requires a great deal of relaxation and finesse so I think being laid back is more a strength for me than an ability to get super pumped would.
What is your off-track training regimen like? And what kind of physical attributes do great lugers share?
We have a pretty busy off-track training schedule, mainly because we have much more time in the year to do that. Our start is the only time we can actually accelerate ourselves so the bulk of our training is based on have upper body, back and core strength. Grip is also important because we paddle on the ice so strong forearms/hands are helpful. Most athletes are in the weight room at least 3 days a week focusing on Olympic lifting..cleans, clean & jerks, as well as snatch are the closest explosive movements we can get to our start. I do a lot of stability and coordination work as well, in order to maintain body position while going down the track. Definitely strong arms & shoulders/lats are something that most luge athletes share.
Hey Erin. What is the best luge joke? Thanks.
You're such a luuuuuger...with a hand held in the "L" shape on the forehead...everyone thinks they are so original with this one.
When are they finally going to design tracks with clothoid loops?
Not sure gravity would be our friend if they did...we go fast, but probably not fast enough for that.
Coke or Pepsi?
Whats the weirdest superstition you have or have seen in other lugers?
I always put my right glove on first...but it really isn't that weird...I'm right handed so easier for me to use a gloved right hand rather than a left...
How much of the year can you train on the track vs other fitness training?
Most seasons we are on ice from the last week of September/first week of October until anywhere from early March through late April. Very often weather influences this as does how much training my body and brain can handle at the end of the season. Our racing schedule is generally from mid-November through the end of February.
What's your most awkward moment?
Saying "I have to pee" before a race run and having the camera catch it...first time we had a race broadcast live...
What is your favorite food?
I've seen pictures of your family and friends at races, so cool! It must be awesome to have that support. Have they always been that way or just after you got to the Olympics?
Always! I have the best support system. Both immediate family, extended family (I've got a big one..) and friends, members of my community and people I've never even met. I'm known for the crowd that I bring to home races in Lake Placid and have been so lucky to have my family support and have them able to make it to every olympics and a few other big races around the world. Mostly though they are at the Lake Placid and Park City races. They don't get to be there every time, unfortunately!
I am thinking of a trip to Lake Placid? What should I do while there? Where should I stay?
There are so many options!! In the winter skiing is definitely a big draw, skating on the lake if its frozen. If you're a hiker or Xcountry skier, there are so many trails everywhere that are great and snowshoeing in winter is awesome! Obviously if you time it right (ahem, Dec. 15-16 this year we race there) you should check Mt. Vanhoevenberg out and catch some sliding action. Food is fantastic...the 'Dack Shack/Simply Gourmet is excellent, so is Taverna, Big Mountain Deli (used to work there...shameless plug 😝). I could go on for days... Lodging...highest end I'd say go for Whiteface Lodge. More intimate would be something like the Interlaken or Airbnb a cozy cabin or cottage.
Why the hell don't you look?
It is more aerodynamic to keep my head back. And we do peek sometimes ;)
What has been the proudest moment of your career and what do you hope your legacy or message is that you'll eventually leave behind?
I feel very fortunate to have a couple. Being the first man or woman from the US to win a medal in singles luge is a pretty big moment for me, and the first woman, period. I feel like I have beaten the odds multiple times and come through as the under dog to find success (2009 worlds, 2014 Olympics, even last year at World Champs). It feels good to do something that nobody (somtimes even myself) thought I would accomplish. Sweeping the podium with my teammates a couple years ago was also a very proud moment. It shows that our camaraderie and team atmosphere made us a force to be reckoned with, and the strength of our women's program. I hope to leave a legacy that shows people to stick to who they are and what they dream to accomplish no matter what. Who cares where you're from, what you're "supposed" to do or be ABLE to do. Prove them all wrong. And do it with grace.
Always curious, can you make $ doing this sport?
Some, but not as much as most people think Olympians or Olympic medalists make. Definitely not enough to completely live a comfortable life off of, unless you manage to get a bunch of endorsements, which is hard because it is not a mainstream, headlining sport.
That sucks. Do you work another job? They should pay you!!!!!!!!!
Thankfully on the flip side, we have a great collection of sponsors and suppliers to my expenses are low. I travel and train on their dime so unless it is personal expenses, most is taken care of. It is worth it! And yes, very often athletes work part time jobs. I have in the past but am fortunate enough at the moment to be able to focus on training.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I love yoga, reading, baking, any outdoor activity really...biking, hiking, skiing, horseback riding ( I grew up with horses), spending time with my giant family, relaxing! To be honest, we don't get a ton of it..
Can you write me a Haiku about luge?
I just finished training for the day so my brain is quite spent...
What's it like to slide down a track at 90 mph without looking?
Quite a rush...but because I am used to it my mind and body are able to slow it down in a way, and process it without thinking so my reactions happen without having to think and its chaos with a bit of finesse, riding right on the edge of out of control (it's the fastest). Trusting my skill and instinct enough to go blind and feel myself and sled working with the curves, and pressures (think basic physics) to go as fast as possible...and it all being over in 40-50 seconds is a pretty big shot of adrenaline
Who's your favourite member of The Wu Tang Clan ?
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