Having already visited the 2018 host city, Olympic luge medallist Erin Hamlin reveals how athletes can maximise their PyeongChang experience

As a three-time Olympian and the only American ever to win an Olympic medal in singles luge, Erin Hamlin has been the centrepiece of US luge for more than decade. Now competing in her 13th season on tour, the 31-year-old has her sights set firmly on the podium at PyeongChang 2018, having gained valuable track experience over two visits to the challenging, 16-curve Olympic Sliding Centre.

Although it was mostly business at both the test event in February 2017 and the recent International Training Week in November, Hamlin found a little time to explore PyeongChang and the surrounding areas during her trips. Here, she offers her top tips on how athletes can enjoy their PyeongChang experience away from competition…

Familiarise yourself with your surroundings
“Having an idea of what to expect is always nice – even just the food options, so we know what to bring to supplement those options, or locating gym space. We were fortunate to have United States Olympic Committee staff with us on both trips doing recon of the area. They hooked us up with a good gym so we could get in a decent workout. They also scoped out grocery stores and restaurants so we know where we can get good food during these training weeks and most importantly during the Games.”

Talk to lots of local people
“There are many volunteers and staff who are very excited to be a part of the Games. A large number of younger Koreans have either spent time studying abroad in English-speaking areas or have learned enough to become fluent. It is fun to learn from them about their culture as well as share ours. To me, this is a big part of the Olympic ideals.”

Eat outside your comfort zone
“We had the chance to go to a Korean BBQ dinner and it was a lot of fun, although there were some menu items I was very unsure of! Aside from trying to avoid super spicy foods, I tried to keep an open mind and it paid off most of the time. Ask questions, even if you can barely communicate with the language barrier, or ask if anyone speaks English. When we did this, not only did everything taste better, but it proved to be a much better overall experience.”

Explore temples
“Be adventurous and check out a temple or two. It is a very cool experience and something that might be very different from your own culture. Even if you aren’t spiritual, it is a very peaceful and calming experience to just walk through one.”

Visit the coast
“We took a trip to the coast on the East Sea in November. It was very beautiful, and I would imagine that during the Games there will be a lot going on. There are fresh fish markets and restaurants that have their own tanks of seafood and fish right outside, which is also cool.”

For more advice about making the most of your PyeongChang experience, click here