Team USA’s Erin Hamlin closes stellar career with 6th place Olympic result in South Korea

Summer Britcher 19th; Emily Sweeney did not finish

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – The brilliant career of USA Luge’s Erin Hamlin, the Sochi Olympic bronze medalist and two-time World Champion, ended at the Olympic Winter Games Tuesday night as the four-time Olympian placed sixth on a tricky course at the Alpensia Sliding Centre.

“I was definitely going for it,” said the 2018 U.S. flag bearer from Remsen, N.Y. “I really wanted to end on a good, solid run. The parts that I had issues with from the other runs, I did clean up. But unfortunately, the issue I had on that run was typical out of (curve) nine.

“I have no regrets. I do wish I was able to have four clean runs. I was disappointed in the fourth one. I was not able to capitalize on a really good opportunity. At the end of these races, anything can happen. It’s one of the closest Olympic races I’ve ever been in. It was really exciting and it would have been nice to capitalize on the situation. But I had fun. It was a good experience, and I’m ready to sleep a little bit.”

Summer Britcher, in her second Olympics, wound up 19th after setting a track record Monday night. That run enabled the five-time World Cup winner to secure the lead leg in Thursday night’s team relay.

Emily Sweeney did not finish in her Olympic debut. In her fourth and final heat, the Suffield, Conn. athlete encountered difficulty, like so many men and women have, in the notorious curves eight and nine. By the time she reached curve 12, Sweeney’s sled was skidding out of control. She went to the roof feet first, before deflecting down to the trough of the curve.

The mishap left her bruised and sore, but thankfully free of serious injury. Sweeney gingerly walked through the media mix zone afterward, before being taken to the Olympic Village clinic for X-rays and evaluation. She ended her night resting in her accommodations.

Hamlin started the evening in fifth place, just 0.04 of a second from third. On this course, it was ample reason to think another Olympic medal was possible, on the 20th anniversary of the team’s first two medals in Nagano, Japan.

But a repeat of the men’s finish two nights earlier was not in the offing. Natalie Geisenberger upheld her overnight lead. In fact, the tall German stood atop the leaderboard for all four runs, topping the field in 3 minutes, 5.232 seconds. It marked her second consecutive Olympic gold medal and third overall, including a bronze in Vancouver.

Teammate Dajana Eitberger showed her mettle by winning the final heat and claimed the silver medal in 3:05.599. Alex Gough gave Canada its’ long-awaited first Olympic medal with the bronze in 3:05.644. Hamlin clocked 3:05.912.

Another German, Tatyana Huefner was bidding to become the only woman to achieve four Olympic medals, and she was heading in that direction. Huefner, who has one medal of each color, occupied second place entering the final round but faltered over the final curves and placed fourth. Kim McRae of Canada took fifth.

Britcher also entered Pyeongchang with a chance to add to the organization’s total of six Olympic medals. She had found a streak of consistently good sliding last month, and it appeared the timing was right. Of her four trips, the Glen Rock, Pa. Olympian mustered a track record second heat but that was it. Add a teammate’s crash, and Britcher’s psyche was impacted.

“I was pretty devastated myself already,” stated Britcher. “I felt like I put myself back together and was ready for my run, and then when Emily crashed that was really hard. I’ve never been so relieved as when I saw her getting up and walking. I did my best to put it out of my head. I really, really wanted to get a start record and gave it everything I had, I slipped a little bit and mistakes happen.”

In the span of 48 hours, the organization experienced the euphoria of Chris Mazdzer’s silver medal on Sunday night and the concern for a young team member’s physical well-being. In less than 24 hours, they’ll be on the ice again, as racing resumesWednesday with the Olympic doubles event at 8:20 PM Pyeongchang time / 6:20 AM ET, followed by the team relay Thursday night to end the program.

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