THERE WERE no Al Michaels outbursts to define the moment, but Lake Placid was the site of another miracle on ice last Friday. That's where Erin Hamlin, 22, won the world luge championship, a victory that broke Germany's 15-year stranglehold on the sport. Hamlin, who grew up in Remsen, N.Y., is the first non-German woman to win a world or Olympic title since 1994. Between the Olympics, worlds and World Cup competitions, German women had won 99 straight singles races since '97. "It was a little bit of a shock for us," said Germany's Natalie Geisenberger, who took the silver medal .187 of a second behind Hamlin. "But one day the day comes, and the day is today."
This is the first time Hamlin has reached the podium at a major international event. She placed 12th at the 2006 Turin Games and had finished better than eighth once in seven World Cup events this season. But on a familiar track at Lake Placid, she set a course record with a time of 43.985 seconds on her second run. "I've trained here so many times," she said. "When I heard worlds would be here I figured it would be my best chance."
Hamlin's breakthrough performance wasn't the only U.S. surprise at the worlds. Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin won the bronze medal in the two-man event. It was the sixth world championships bronze for the veteran pair—but their first medal anywhere since 2007 and a surprise considering that Grimmette, 38, has been limited by a back injury for two years. "Anytime you win a medal, it's always a big rush," Martin, 35, said. "And to have that comeback after a drought really does feel good."