Olympian Summer Britcher turns 20 this week.
Olympian Summer Britcher turns 20 this week.

She's only been back in the United States for about a week.

Yet, Glen Rock native Summer Britcher has already resumed training at the USA Luge headquarters in Lake Placid, N.Y.

After returning from Sochi, Russia, where she competed in the Winter Olympics, Britcher is now finishing out the usual winter luge season. She took silver and bronze medals in a pair of national races last weekend in Lake Placid. And she's set to compete in a couple more races there later this month.

"Then I know in the beginning of April we'll be going down to Washington, D.C., to meet the president," Britcher said.

By "we" Britcher means she and the rest of the U.S. Winter Olympics team. Britcher, a 2012 Susquehannock High School grad, became the first York County native to compete in the Winter Olympics last month, placing 15th in women's singles luge.

"I'm extremely happy with it," Britcher said of her 15th place finish. "Especially given I was having issues literally right up to the race, I'm very happy with it. Hopefully, next time, I'll be a bit more experienced."

Britcher's teammate, Erin Hamlin, proved experience matters by becoming the first U.S. luger to medal at the Olympics with a third-place finish in her third time competing in the Olympic Games. Kate Hansen, who was also making her Olympic debut alongside Britcher, finished 10th.

Battling nerves: Britcher said she tried ridding herself of nerves before her runs by joking around with her coach, like winking at the camera just before her final run down the luge track in Sochi. Fans back home watching the NBC live feed saw the gesture.

"That's a funny story. Most of the time you see an athlete and a coach who are serious. I learned at beginning of this season that joking around with my coach helps me relax and not get too nervous," Britcher said. "I accidentally looked at the camera before my first run and smiled. He (my coach) was making fun of me for that. So I said 'Next time, I'm just gonna wink at the camera.'"

Following the completion of the luge competition, Britcher spent time with teammates taking in some of the Olympic events.

"I went to the men's ice hockey game between the United States and Russia. The best thing I got to watch was that," she said. "And the U.S. women's (ice hockey) gold medal game. I got to see some figure skating. Some aerial skiing. Snowboarding. The most underrated sport ever is speed skating relay. So cool. That is my new favorite sport."

A detour: Before returning to the U.S., Britcher and a few luge teammates decided to take a detour by spending more than a week in Spain, visiting sites in Barcelona and Madrid.

"I actually took three years of Spanish (in high school). I thought I had forgotten all of it. But I understood a good amount," Britcher said.

Britcher, who will celebrate her 20th birthday Friday, did get a few days last week to stop back home in Glen Rock, where she was surprised with the outpouring of support.

"It's so hard to describe driving home and seeing signs in the town 'Congratulations, Summer,'" she said. "Everywhere I went, somebody was congratulating me. At some point, I almost teared up a little bit. To fully understand how supportive everyone is back home ... I was seeing 'congratulations' online and that meant so much to me."

As for the future, Britcher plans to resume taking online classes with Devry next fall and declaring a major in business. There's also the next four years of competition and training in hopes to return to the Winter Olympics in 2018.

—Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.