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Originally published February 11, 2014 at 8:54 PM | Page modified February 11, 2014 at 10:38 PM

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Erin Hamlin becomes first American to medal in singles luge

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SOCHI, Russia — American luger Erin Hamlin knew heading into the third-to-last turn Tuesday that she belonged to history.

She had slid beautifully over the past two days at the Sanki Sliding Center, amassed a comfortable time cushion during her three previous runs and executed her fourth one well enough that no one could bump her from the medal stand. She just needed to lie back and enjoy the ride.

Hamlin crossed the finish line seconds later, assuring herself the bronze and becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in a singles luge event.

“It’s surreal,” the 27-year-slider said of her third-place finish. “I came here with no expectations and this is beyond what I imagined.”

It, indeed, seemed an unimaginable ending for a three-time Olympian who could still feel the sting of her last Winter Games. Favored to win a medal in Vancouver four years ago, Hamlin finished a devastating 16th after the start gates were lowered to the junior level because of last-minute safety concerns.

“I didn’t want that to become my legacy,” she said.

Hamlin finished 1.37 seconds behind Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger, who maintained her country’s dominance in the sliding sport. Tatjana Huefner, who won gold in Vancouver four years ago, finished second.

German Vogt wins first women’s ski jumping gold

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Based on training sessions in the Caucasus Mountains above Sochi, the battle for the Winter Olympics’ first-ever gold medal in women’s ski jumping was between Sara Takanashi and Daniela Iraschko-Stolz.

Carina Vogt had other ideas.

A distant second place to Takanashi in the World Cup standings and never a winner of a World Cup event, Vogt now owns the most important medal in her sport.

“I cannot find the right words, it’s amazing, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible three hours ago,” the German jumper said. “It’s amazing. I’m the first woman Olympic champion in ski jumping.”

The 17-year-old Takanashi didn’t even make the podium — Iraschko-Stolz took silver and Coline Mattell of France earned bronze, leaving Takanashi fourth.

In other events

U.S. cross-country skier Kikkan Randall, was eliminated in the qualifying rounds of the women’s freestyle sprint. Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway took the gold in that race, with teammate Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg earning silver.

Ola Vigen Hattestad captured the men’s sprint title in a race marred by a three-skier collision. Emil Joensson of Sweden, who had all but given up earlier in the race, grabbed the bronze after Sergey Ustiugov of Russia, Marcus Hellner of Sweden and Anders Gloeersen of Norway were involved in a crash that left them sprawled across the course. Torin Koos of Leavenworth was 37th in 3:40.27 and Erik Bjornsen of Winthrop was 39th in 3:40.39.

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