Erin Hamlin wins World Luge Championships sprint title, eyes 2018 retirement

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In her likely final world luge championships, Erin Hamlin took gold for the second time in her career, eight years after her breakout world title.

Hamlin won the sprint event in Igls, Austria, by .009 of a second over defending champion Martina Kocher of Switzerland, on Friday. The shortened, single-run sprint is not on the Olympic program. The full, two-run race at worlds is Saturday.

“I’m very, very excited that I can kind of prove to myself that I can still compete with the best,” Hamlin said Friday. “To me, the big show is still tomorrow.”

Hamlin became the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist in Sochi, taking bronze.

She said Friday that she hopes to make the PyeongChang Winter Games, which would be her fourth Olympics, the last competition of her career.

“That’s kind of a thought, yeah,” Hamlin said. “Obviously, you always say you keep an open mind, but I feel like that would be good timing.”

Hamlin earned an upset gold at the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid, ending a 99-race German win streak in major international competition.

She had some disappointing results in the years following her world title, the first world medal by a U.S. female luger, but has been strong in recent seasons.

She owns two World Cup victories this season and ranks third in the World Cup standings. Hamlin said she’s accomplished more than she could have imagined in the sport and is excited to venture into other opportunities after PyeongChang.

Hamlin has been joined on the World Cup podium in recent seasons by younger teammates Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney, who may lead the women’s program beyond 2018.

“Definitely feeling a little bit like the old lady around town here,” Hamlin joked. “It’s really fun to be able to see how competitive our team as a whole has gotten, so it pushes me. That’s a huge factor in me still being able to perform at this level, having the young guns keeping me on my toes.”

NBCSN will air world championships coverage Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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