Introduced to the sport of Luge at the age of twelve by USA Luge’s Slider Search program in Syracuse, NY, Erin Hamlin has grown to become one of America’s top female athletes in their respective disciplines. Making the World Cup Team in the fall of ’05 landed her on the Senior World circuit where she raced her way onto the ’06 Olympic Team. In Torino, Italy she slid to a 12th place finish at only 19 years old.
MindBodyGreen: How/when did you first get started with Luge?
Erin Hamlin: In August of 1999 I attended a USA Luge Slider Search, the recruitment program they do around the country looking for kids with potential in the sport. I was selected to attend a "screening" camp in Lake Placid, NY the winter where I learned the basics of steering a sled, doing a start, and just learning about the sport in general. From there I was put on a Junior Development Team which started the climb through the series of teams that lead to where I am now.
MBG: What was Torino like?
EH: It was so much fun. I think a person's first Olympic experience will stick out in their memory and always be a bright spot no matter what the games were like. Just the excitement of being a part of the Olympics and walking into Opening Ceremonies and having so so many people insanely excited for me was the coolest thing.
MBG: What’s your favorite thing about the Olympics?
EH: Just the overall idea of it. A single sporting event for the entire world? That is so cool. And the message it sends, of sportsmanship and peace and friendship is very important to society today. Its so much bigger than just me racing down a track trying to win a medal, but being able to race makes me a part of it, which is like nothing else in the world.
MBG: How do you cross-train during the spring and summer?
EH: I spend from April-September training pretty much every day. 3 days a week lifting (Olympic style weightlifting with a lot of sports specific stuff thrown in as well). I do sprint workouts, agility workouts, yoga, medicine- and physio-ball workouts. Pretty much anything you can think of we have thrown into workouts at some point. Balance, agility, quickness and explosiveness are big for our sport so anything that can help that, from wake surfing and pull-ups, to slack-lining and running 30m sprints -- it all helps. We also do some sliding on the track (no ice, the track is concrete in the summer and we put wheels on the sleds) and we have a refrigerated start facility where we can practice the very beginning of each run where we propel ourselves off a set of handles and paddle on the ice.
MBG: Do you visualize your races before you compete?
EH: Almost every run I visualize what I have to do. We call them mind runs and basically I go through every curve and...rehearse, I guess, every steer I will have to make going down. Because we are moving so fast down the track we have to have the track and lines engraved in our minds before we go. That way we can react quick enough and be ready for everything.
MBG: What does mind/body/wellness mean to you?
EH: Having a healthy body is huge to any athlete, but having a healthy mind is something people don't always stress but is so important for luge. Knowing you are about to hurl yourself down an icy track at speeds up to 90mph and have to be completely relaxed while doing it...that takes some serious mind power. You can't have anything nagging at your mind, or be distracted. It also takes a serious toll on your body so making sure it is healthy going in always benefits me
on the other end. If I do get hurt or anything, being in good shape and strong makes it that easier to cope with injury.
MBG: Favorite quote?
EH: Not necessarily my all time favorite, but a good one I have read recently: "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do." -- Eleanor Roosevelt
MBG: Favorite guilty indulgence?
EH: M&M's and American Idol
MBG: Speaking of American Idol, what’s on your playlist before you race?
EH: I don't always listen to music right before I race, but when I do it can be anything from Dave Matthews Band to Matisyahu or Xavier Rudd...to name a random few. Or some killer '80s music. Really anything, its hard to list it all. Both inspirational/motivational stuff and chill stuff to help me relax.
MBG: Is there anyone you are looking forward to meeting at the Vancouver Olympics?
EH: I know in the past the President has made an appearance, it would be
pretty awesome to meet him.
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Photo credit: Sam Churchill