Thursday, February 11, 2010

Delaney: Hamlin in her element

I had a chance to spend a few minutes with USA lugers Erin Hamlin and Megan Sweeney on Wednesday. I met them in the lobby of their residence in the athletes village in Whistler.

The one-day open media access was arranged by the IOC and was a new plan for the 2010 Winter Olympics. In the past, media tours of athletes villages have been done with a "cattle" mentality. All media moving as a group from one place to another.

That does not allow for much flexibility. Wednesday's set-up was much better. The media have free reign to visit the dining hall, fitness centre and lounges. Really a great experience.

Hamlin and Sweeney seemed great, very relaxed five days before the sport's biggest race. Both women, and teammate Julia Clukey, had the same demeanor at a luge singles press conference Tuesday night.

Hamlin was bubbly while answering reporters' questions after the formal press conference. It was nice to see. Hamlin, I'd say, is known for her ability to focus, compartmentalize her tasks and getting things done. On Tuesday night, it was a looser, more relaxed Erin Hamlin.

"Have fun," Hamlin told me. "Don't focus too much."

She ought to know. This is her second Olympics. I'm an Olympic rookie so it would be wise to listen to the experienced players.

Sweeney, a first-time Olympian, is doing the same thing.

"Erin has been great, I've been asking her questions," Sweeney said.

One tip Hamlin gave Sweeney. A small Coca-Cola bottle shaped swipe card attached to athletes' credentials can be run through Coke machines for free drinks.

Good tip.

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