Editor's note: This is the third in a four-part series on women's singles luger Summer Britcher, the first York countian to compete in the Winter Olympic Games.
Eight years ago, Erin Hamlin was in Summer Britcher's shoes.
Just 19 years old, Hamlin was making her debut in the Winter Olympic Games in 2006 in Turin, Italy. She couldn't believe she was there. If anything, Hamlin figured maybe it was too early in her luge career to be in the Olympics.
"You're expecting to go later. It's exciting. You go in with no pressure on yourself. No expectations," Hamlin said last week during a conference call from France with some of her U.S. luge teammates.
|PURCHASE THESE PHOTOS RANDY FLAUM & AP PHOTOS|
"For me, in 2006, it was about getting that experience. My buildup to the Games was like hers (Britcher's). It's cool to see it happen to somebody else, too. Getting that exposure at that early stage in my career helped me mature a little bit quicker."
Hamlin will be competing in her third-straight Olympic Games in Sochi. She placed 12th in women's singles luge in the 2006 Olympic Games and 16th in the 2010 Olympic Games in Canada.
In Sochi, Hamlin will be competing alongside a pair of new Olympic women's singles luge teammates in 19-year-old Britcher and 21-year-old Kate Hansen. Like Britcher, Hansen also is making her Olympic debut.
"I think they both got pretty good heads on their shoulders," Hamlin said of Britcher and Hansen. "Kate's been competing at this level for a while. Summer, too. The best thing to do is not psyche yourself out about it. Just try to enjoy the whole experience and not do too much."
That's about as much advice as Hamlin said she'll offer this week to Britcher and Hansen, a California native.
Expectations: It goes along with the feelings Britcher, a 2012 Susquehannock High School graduate, expressed about Sochi at her Glen Rock home over Christmas break.
"I'll be really happy with a top-10 finish I think," Britcher said. "I'm just so happy to be going. I never thought past making the team. And now I have to. I have to think 'What are my goals? What do I want out of this?'"
Britcher's goal isn't farfetched.
Competing on the World Cup circuit for the first time in her career in the 2013-14 season, Britcher finished in the top 10 in three out of seven races. She never placed worse than 16th in the other four races.
Hamlin enters the Olympics coming off a World Cup season where she had seven top-eight finishes, including a season-best fourth-place finish in the final World Cup event in Latvia. Hansen is also on a roll after taking gold in the Latvia race, becoming the first U.S. luger since 1997 to take first place in a World Cup event.
Unlike many Olympic events, the field of competitors in luge is mostly the same as that in the World Cup events, so Hamlin, Hansen and Britcher will be going up against many of the same athletes they've been facing the last few months.
"I think if I finish top 10 I would be ecstatic," Britcher said.
It might be about the only thing more satisfying than how she'll feel walking into Fisht Olympic Stadium in front of more than 40,000 spectators during Friday's Opening Ceremony.
"My cheeks are probably going to be sore the next day from smiling."
—Reach John Walk at email@example.com.