Glen Rock native Summer Britcher has yet to return to the United States since competing in the Winter Olympics.
The 2012 Susquehannock High School graduate decided to go on a week's vacation in Barcelona, Spain, shortly after attending the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"People were telling me about post-Olympics depression, so I decided to go on vacation to avoid it," Britcher tweeted from her Twitter account Feb. 24.
Her mom, dad, older sister and two older brothers, however, returned home about two weeks ago.
"Apparently they got their flight back paid for so they figured why not do a stop-over in Spain on the way back?" Bill Britcher, Summer's dad, said of her mini-vacation. "Go ahead and do that. They pitched in, about four or five of them, and rented an apartment over there."
Britcher said his daughter is expected to return home sometime next week. In the meantime, he and his family have already gotten back to civilian life.
"It's amazing how many people in the area enjoyed it (the Winter Olympics) and enjoyed watching it and stuff," Britcher said of the reaction he's received since returning home. "I knew family and friends knew (Summer was competing in the Olympics), but once it spread more it was amazing hearing the local people have someone from their town to cheer for in the Olympics."
Becoming the first York County native to compete in the Winter Olympics, Summer Britcher placed 15th in singles women's luge. Teammate Erin Hamlin, competing in her third Olympics, made history by finishing third to become the first-ever American women's singles luger to medal.
On TV: The Britcher family could be seen on the NBC live feed cheering at the bottom of the luge track, wearing red shirts with white lettering on the front reading "Team Summer." The shirts were made by one of Britcher's colleagues from the firehouse of Engine 29 in Baltimore, where he has served as captain for 10 years. One of Summer's brothers, Alex, stood out from the crowd wearing a latex suit in the design of an American flag.
"At first, I thought it was gonna be squirrely," Britcher said. "Then everybody was asking to take a picture with him, even people from other countries."
One Russian man even went so far as trading a jacket for Alex's red, white and blue ballcap designed like an American flag.
"I think the guy was drinking and he wanted it (the hat) so bad. There's a custom over there where if you give somebody something then they have to give you something back in return. He gave my son a leather jacket for the hat," Britcher said.
Security: The Britchers didn't get much of an opportunity to spend time with Summer in Sochi.
"The way they had security locked down, we couldn't get to see her and she couldn't get to us. Then the next night we made arrangements to meet for about an hour," Britcher said.
Britcher said he felt safe the entire time in Russia.
"I guess going into it I was a little bit more worried or paranoid about the security," he said. "Once we got through security, we felt welcome. They just seemed like normal people going about their day. The only problem we had was the language barrier. Just trying to communicate with people. One thing, if I ever go to something like that again, I would take more of an initiative to learn more of their language."
Britcher said he'd also find lodging closer to the Olympic events if he had to do it again. The Britchers stayed on a cruise ship in the port of Sochi and had to take a train ride to just about everywhere.
"Somehow, going into it, I thought it was going to be this big family vacation, but it was exhausting. It was a lot of work," Britcher said. "I knew there was going to be travel. But I didn't realize there would be a lot of waiting in lines. We'd easily be eating up to five hours a day traveling. So there was that along with the jet lag. Still, it was enjoyable."
— Reach John Walk at email@example.com.