Team USA- Road to Sochi
Sledding is an activity millions of kids and adults love to do in the winter. But take that sled and ride it feet-first down an icy track at almost 100 mph, and that is a sport by another name — luge. And it is no piece of cake. Just ask luger Erin Hamlin. The two-time Olympian — who is about to start an intensive training schedule with the hopes of heading to Sochi with Team USA next year — knows all about cake… and cookies and cupcakes. The winter athlete has a love for baking that started long before her luge career eight years ago.
“My mom and my grandmother are very good at baking,” she said, “so it was one of those things I grew up doing. And I enjoy it a lot. It’s so far removed from sports and my life as an athlete that it’s nice to be able to take my mind off all that.”
Her mom — who lives only three hours away from her daughter’s training center in Lake Placid, N.Y. — still bakes with her only daughter in mind. “My teammates have experienced a lot of my mom’s baking skills because she always sends stuff. So now if I walk down the hall with a box, I’ll suddenly have a lot of friends.” Not that she minds, because as she says, “It’s not necessarily the best thing to have baked goods hanging around all the time when you’re trying to train. So I spread the wealth. I’ll take them to our office and down to the staff around the training center.”
Now she is able to bake the sweet stuff for herself thanks to “a little kitchenette they put in the training center a couple of years ago.” And balancing her training on the ice with her time in the kitchen is helping her with a longtime dream of hers — besides the one she has of earning an Olympic medal one day. This one she has been trying to achieve since she was a little girl, and it requires her to beat her grandma at her town’s annual baking contest.
“In my town in New York there is a baking contest held during the annual arts and crafts fair, and anyone can enter. I did it a couple of times when I was younger (and competed in the kids category), but my mom and grandma have always done it. And my grandma wins almost every year. As I got older I thought I could beat grandma, since I was finally able to try things that were a little more crazy. One year I made chocolate cupcakes with sweet cream cheese filling and a chocolate ganache, and made them to look like the flower, Black-Eyed Susan.”
But despite putting forth a good effort — and a second place finish — she has yet to beat grandma.