Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Winter Olympics: Luger Erin Hamlin to carry U.S. flag at opening ceremony

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Tickets to the opening ceremony of any Olympics can be costly, and Erin Hamlin's parents often wonder if it's a worthwhile purchase.
This time, there's no question.
Hamlin's fourth and final Olympics will start with her having the distinction of carrying the American flag into Friday's official start of the Winter Games, after winning a vote held by her fellow American Olympians. She's the fourth member of the USA Luge team to carry the flag into an opening, and whatever Ron and Eileen Hamlin spent for their seats will be worth every penny.
"I think they're going to be really glad that they made that decision," Hamlin said. "They're really pumped. I'm sure my brothers will be. We've grown up watching the Olympics and we're always like, 'Who's going to be carrying the flag?' And to actually be that person is insane."
Hamlin, 31, won a bronze medal at the 2014 Games and is a two-time world champion and a winner of 23 World Cup medals. But even with that sort of resume, Hamlin — who is retiring after the Olympics, ending about a two-decade career on her sled — never thought she would be the flag pick.
In December, when asked in an interview with the Associated Press if she thought it would be possible, Hamlin giggled.
"To me, that always seems to be a really, really big-name person," Hamlin said at the time.
Apparently, that's who the native of tiny Remsen, N.Y., has become, at least in the U.S. Olympic community.
Hamlin learned of the voting result Wednesday night. She got a text from Alan Ashley, the chef de mission for Team USA, requesting her to call back as soon as she could. Hamlin wondered what had gone wrong and braced herself for some sort of bad news as she dialed his number.
"He told me, and I was like, 'Wait, officially?' " Hamlin said, still in disbelief.
She then called her family, which was about to start its long flight to South Korea. Her mother started crying, which was no surprise. Her brother didn't exactly put her at ease when he offered this sage piece of advice: Don't drop the flag.
"The nerves will be flying, for sure," Hamlin said. "I slide. That's what I do. Put me at the top of the track, that's my happy place. Walking out in front of a lot of people and even more watching from home, hoping to not trip over my own feet or drop the flag is going to be way more nerve-wracking."

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