Erin Hamlin's family reminisces about Hamlin's first luge experience

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Hamlin's first-ever attempt at the sport happened by chance at Schiller Park in Syracuse. 

The USA Luge organization hosted an event to introduce young people to the sport.

News cameras were there in August 1999 when a 12-year-old Hamlin and her brother, joined by her mom and aunt from Liverpool, went down the hill in a luge for the first time.

Months later, she was mailed a letter invited to begin training and competing because of her performance that summer day.

Friday, Hamlin's aunt and uncle returned to the park with Andrew Donovan of our sister station NewsChannel 9 to reminisce.

That day in Schiller Park that Colleen is remembering was 20 years ago, but she remembers it vividly.  

"It was just fun, we weren't thinking much of it other than this little thing to try out, happening on a Saturday in the park," said Colleen 

Colleen, from Liverpool, and her sister, from Remsen, brought their kids to an event hosted by USA Luge -- for a chance to try an out of the ordinary sport. 

"To be honest, I think it might have been Ryan who was more interested. She just happen to have what they... they saw something in her that they were looking for.

She's talking about her niece Erin Hamlin. And at just 12 years old, she had exactly what they were looking for. 

"There were just a group of kids on a grass knoll. getting strapped onto these street luges. and nobody knew what we were in for, really.

"This is where it all started right here. she was just a little kid out for a joyride. and it turned into an amazing trip for her." 

That trip has brought Erin to Olympic games in Torino, Vancouver, and atop the medal podium in Sochi and now -- Pyeongchang. 

"She just got off the couch and tried it and here she is, in the Olympics carrying the flag."

If Erin could top her bronze medal last time, it's only by the honor bestowed upon her this year -- leading Team USA into the opening ceremony. 

"I was thinking today what I'm most proud of. the medals are great, but man, I'm so proud of the job and enthusiasm she's brought to the whole community. that gets me choked up.

A smile in South Korea -- thanks to a small hill in Syracuse. Andrew Donovan, NewsChannel Nine.

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