OBERHOF, Germany — Glen Rock's Summer Britcher overcame "pathetic and unacceptable" training conditions to again pace all U.S. women in a World Cup luge race on Saturday, Jan. 13.
Britcher took sixth place, improving from eighth at the intermission. She was timed in 1 minute, 22.865 seconds.
“The race went all right. I had two pretty decent runs,” said the 2014 Olympian, who had the third- and fourth-fastest starts in each heat, respectively. “I definitely felt like they (the runs) weren’t perfect. There was still some time in there, some small corrections I had to make. I didn’t let the sled go as much as I would have liked to.
“I was really happy with my start times. They were by far my personal best start times (here). That’s something that’s going to be key knowing where I need to be strength-wise and recovery-wise going into the next couple of weeks, leading into the Games.”
Britcher has already qualified for 2018 Winter Games next month in South Korea after placing 15th in the 2014 Winter Games in Russia.
Britcher has accumulated a streak of consistent World Cup runs. Her Oberhof efforts occurred after dismal track conditions to conclude training on Friday.
“So this was a big problem we had here, and it comes down to either the FIL or the organizers of the World Cup in Oberhof having, in my opinion, no integrity. It’s definitely not the track crew’s fault. They were sent home pretty early in the day (Friday), and there was no track prep done within two hours before the doubles training, and the men didn’t even start for over an hour after that. So the track conditions for our final training run were, honestly, pathetic and unacceptable. And I’m really disappointed to see that the FIL didn’t do anything about that.”
Britcher applauded the Oberhof crew by saying that training conditions earlier in the week were excellent, and the ice was built very well. But with no course preparation before the seeded group’s training session Friday, she said the final men’s training run was three seconds slower than the Nations Cup qualifier earlier in the day.
“This is a World Cup, and the track crew wasn’t even at the track during the A seed (training) run or leading up to it,” said Britcher, whose result here was her best in Oberhof.
To emphasize her points, not even the home team was content. Virtually all German athletes opted out of the A seed session due to poor, slow ice. Dajana Eitberger, in fact, added that Friday training conditions were “atrocious.”
Eitberger won Saturday's women's race, ahead of teammates Natalie Geisenberger and world champion Tatjana Huefner.
Geisenberger still leads the World Cup standings, with 795 points, ahead of Eitberger at 618 and Huefner at 585. Britcher is fifth with 446 points.
Four-time Olympian and Sochi bronze medalist Erin Hamlin, of Remsen, New York, was eighth in the German race and is seventh in the World Cup standings with 354 points.
Information for this story was provided by USA Luge.