Olympic bronze medalist and reigning world sprint champion Erin Hamlin has been awarded an automatic spot on USA Luge's fall World Cup team for the coming season, a step that moves her significantly closer to a place in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
USA Luge will send 10 sliders to next year's Olympics. Besides Hamlin, the others will be chosen from a field of 15 announced Wednesday.
Other women in the pool include Emily Sweeney, Summer Britcher, Raychel Germaine, Brittney Arndt and Ashley Farquharson. The men's pool includes Tucker West, Chris Mazdzer, Taylor Morris, Jonny Gustafson and John Fennell. Doubles teams under consideration are the pairings of Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman, Jake Hyrns and Andrew Espinoza, and Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk.
Aidan Kelly, who was part of the 2014 Olympic team, has told USA Luge that he intends to retire, as has Riley Stohr. Both would have been under consideration for the men's Olympic selections this fall.
A series of races in Lake Placid, New York; Whistler, British Columbia; and Calgary, Alberta, will decide the fall World Cup team. From there, the first five World Cup results - culminating in Lake Placid on Dec. 16 - will decide the Olympic team. The team will be unveiled in Lake Placid.
Hamlin is a four-time world championship medalist, two of them gold, and earned the automatic berth with a silver medal in women's singles at worlds this past season. She is bidding for her fourth Olympic team, and is coming off a bronze win at Sochi in 2014.
Mazdzer is a two-time Olympian, and West, Britcher and the team of Mortensen and Terdiman also are looking for their second Olympic trips for the U.S.
Fennell is a past Olympian as well, having raced for Canada in Sochi.
USA Luge has three men's, three women's and two doubles spots for the Pyeongchang Olympics. Dates for the seeding races before the naming of the full World Cup team have not been determined. On-ice training is expected to begin by mid-October for the Olympic season.