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Erin Hamlin Sets A U.S. First With Medal In Luge

It took 50 years — and for Erin Hamlin, three Olympics — but an American has finally won a singles medal in the sport. Erin Hamlin took bronze behind two powerful Germans in the women's final Tuesday.

Natalie Geisenberger's winning margin of 1.139 seconds was the largest at the Olympics since 1964, the sport's first year at the games. She set a track record on her first run Monday and did the same again on Tuesday, in a run that saw her top 84.5 mph.

The silver medal went to Tatjana Huefner, who won gold in the same event at the Vancouver 2010 Games. Hamlin finished 1.377 seconds behind Geisenberger.

The luge was added to the Winter Olympics 22 years before Hamlin, who lives in Remsen, N.Y., was born. But she has made her mark in the sport, winning the 2009 world championships and three U.S. titles.

And on Tuesday, Hamlin accomplished her goal in Sochi, which she said wasn't so much to make history as it was to get on the podium.

"It's amazing," Hamlin said after her medal run. "It's surreal, really."

"I'm sure everyone at home is going crazy," she added, according to the Team USA site, "and I can't wait to get home to see them."

At the end of the four runs — two on Monday and two today — the three women remained in the same order they were in last night. But Geisenberger, who led by three-quarters of a second after Monday, pulled away, and Hufner kept an edge over Hamlin.

Germany has dominated luge events for years now — and that's holding true in Sochi, where the country has won two gold medals and a silver. Only three other countries — Russia, Italy, and now the U.S. — have medals in the sport.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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