An overwhelming contingent of fans decked out in red, white and blue were there Tuesday at the bottom of the luge track in Sochi, Russia, to cheer on the three United States women's lugers.
Among the group were five family members there to support Glen Rock native Summer Britcher, in particular. All of them were shown repeatedly on Tuesday's live broadcast during the final day of women's singles luge at the Winter Olympics.
Britcher's mom, Carrie, a 1982 Kennard-Dale High School graduate, held up a "Go Summer" sign. Her two older brothers were holding a United States flag - one of the brothers decked out in a body suit donning the U.S. colors, with the stars making up his right sleeve and the red-and-white stripes making up the rest of the outfit. Britcher's older sister was waving a small U.S. flag. And her dad was busy taking pictures.
For those York Countians who couldn't make the trip to Sochi, Britcher gave a wink to the camera just before her fourth-and-final run Tuesday, perhaps a shout out to her fans back home watching from afar. Then Britcher took off out of the gate on her sled and posted her fastest time of her four runs of the two-day competition, crossing the end line in 50.909 seconds.
Britcher ended up holding on to the same spot in which she entered Tuesday's final two runs, finishing the competition in 15th place in her Winter Olympics debut.
"My last run I was really just trying to enjoy it because I was thinking 'this is my last run of the Olympics,'" Britcher said to the media in an interview later provided to The York Dispatch by the United States Luge Association. "And I think it was my best run so far. I still had a little bit of an issue, but it was my fastest time, which is what I was going for. So I'm pretty happy."
The first York County native to compete in the Winter Games, Britcher had a combined time of 3 minutes, 24.143 seconds in the four runs.
"Going in I was hoping for some better results, but I had a lot of problems (in training), but I'm actually really happy with how I did," she said.
The 2012 Susquehannock High School grad made the comments to the media just before teammate Erin Hamlin made history back on the track in her final run. Appearing in her third-straight Winter Olympics, Hamlin finished in third place to get the bronze medal and become the first-ever U.S. Olympian to earn an Olympic medal in singles luge.
"She's in third place and she just really stayed so calm and so determined," Britcher said of Hamlin. "Just the way she's been able to keep her cool is something I really can try to do in races next year."
Britcher admitted she felt stressed during the competition.
"I realized that this week when I was having issues in training, I was just getting way too down on myself," Britcher said. "So I'm just going to try to remind myself a little bit more often that I'm here..."
Britcher then paused momentarily to gather her thoughts before continuing.
"Well, I'm not here to have fun. I'm here because I do have fun when I do this sport. That's why I'm here."
Teammate Kate Hansen, who also made her Olympic debut, finished 10th.
With the competition behind her, Britcher said she's looking forward to watching other Olympic events before she heads back home later in the week.
"I really want to go watch some figure skating," she said. "I'm not sure if I'm gonna be able to get tickets, but I really want to get to watch some figure skating."
- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.