Erin Hamlin’s hometown celebrates her bronze in women’s luge


Erin Hamlin’s run to the bronze medal in women’s luge – the first U.S. Olympic luge medal ever to come in singles competition – set off a celebration at the Sanki Sliding Center and also one in her hometown of Remsen, N.Y.

The 2009 world champion is the pride of the small Central New York town, so much so that she’s got an ice cream sundae named after her at a local shop (FYI: It’s vanilla ice cream, topped with Reese’s peanut butter cups, Oreos, hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry).

They’ve supported her in victory and in defeat, too. After she endured a tough 16th-place finish four years ago in Vancouver, the town still threw a parade in her honor when she came back.

Last night, Remsen partied in the streets after Hamlin managed to grab the bronze. The Utica (N.Y.) Observer-Dispatch reports that a convoy of fire engines and packs of revelers marched down Main Street – albeit briefly, as outside temperatures were in single digits.

MORE: – Hamlin talks with NBC Olympics’ Rebecca Lowe

“We’re so proud of her,” local resident Tina Hughes said to the Observer-Dispatch when the parade was in full gear. “Anyone who lives here knows her.”

Prior to Hamlin’s bronze, all four of the previous U.S. Olympic luge medals had come in doubles competition.

Over on, you can see how Hamlin prepared for her big run in Sochi in a behind-the-scenes feature. You can also catch her final two runs yesterday and a slideshow that looks through her career.

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine

Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”