Glen Rock's Summer Britcher is headed to the 2018 Winter Olympics fresh off a career-best finish in the overall World Cup luge standings.
Thanks to a consistent streak of races in January, highlighted by back-to-back World Cup wins in Lillehammer, the soon-to-be two-time Olympian took third in the overall tour standings as the season came to an end on Sunday in Sigulda, Latvia.
Britcher took sixth in Sunday’s sprint race in Sigulda, which was won by Russia's Tatyana Ivanova.
Germany's Natalie Geisenberger won the overall women's luge title, followed by her teammate, Dajana Eitberger, and Britcher.
Only one event remains this season: The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The 23-year-old Susquehannock High School graduate was also aided by consecutive podium results in Winterberg, Germany, in November. She accounted for four of USA Luge’s nine medals in the 2017-2018 World Cup season. Her Lillehammer victories gave her a career total of five, the most in USA Luge singles history (both men and women).
“It’s incredible. I had a taste of it a couple of years ago,” said Britcher of the 2015-2016 season that saw her win three times in the first half of the season. “At the beginning of this season, when I didn’t qualify (in Igls, Austria), I thought I had no shot.”
As pleased as she was to reach the top three this season, the focus has always been on South Korea. “I’ve looked each week at how I can use the race to help me for the Olympics,” she said
Britcher finished second for the season in the final sprint results behind Geisenberger.
Britcher, who finished 15th in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will be an A seed for the 2018 Olympics, with her event to take place on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 12-13. She will be among the first 12 lugers to compete.
The team relay concluded the day on Sunday in Latvia. That did not go as well for Britcher and the Americans, who entered the team relay with an opportunity to finish in the top three for the season. Every U.S. athlete encountered difficulty. Britcher crashed, but got back on her sled to hit the touch pad. By then, however, the race was over for the United States. The Americans wound up ninth in the race and sixth on the season.
On Saturday in Latvia, Britcher was victimized by a spill on curve 14, taking her out of the running in the women's regular luge competition. She came back with the third-fastest final heat and improved from 17th to 13th in the race standings. Ivanova also won that race.
Information for this story was provided by USA Luge.