Bill and Carrie Britcher talk about their daughter's return to the Olympic luge competition. The York Dispatch
When the women’s luge is contested at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, Glen Rock’s Summer Britcher will have “family” support that is much larger than she ever could've imagined.
That unifying local support for their daughter has resulted in a feeling of a shared Olympic pursuit for Summer’s parents, Carrie and Bill.
“It makes me happy that a lot of people care, because it feels like she’s not just our daughter — she’s everybody’s daughter,” Carrie Britcher said. “She’s a child of Glen Rock, of southern York County, of York County, of Pennsylvania, United States. It’s like we share our daughter with everybody, and everybody’s rooting for her, so that feels really good.”
Tons of support: The support for Summer extends well beyond York County.
Britcher’s father, Bill, is from Baltimore, and Carrie hails from Long Island. So, the family says the network of support extends from Baltimore to Long Island and even to Lake Placid, New York, and beyond, surging throughout the U.S. luge community.
It’s the local community’s embrace, however, that really hits home for the Britchers.
Residents and businesses alike have been supporting Summer, and the biggest gesture of support has seen Britcher banners popping up all over Glen Rock.
Businesses in the area contributed to having the banners made, as did the Glen Rock Historical Society. The portions that were not covered were handled by friends of the Britchers.
The overwhelming outpouring of support isn’t lost on the Britchers.
“Biggest thing I can say is 'Thank you' — we’re truly blessed,” Bill Britcher said. “The support you see on the back end, where people aren’t asking for anything in return, it’s very pleasing and very humbling at the same time. And the best thing I can say is ‘Thank you, really appreciate it.’”
Rooting for a contender: When the time for competition comes, on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 12 and 13, everyone will be cheering on their new "daughter," who’s riding the momentum of a rising luge career into her second shot at the Olympic dream.
The Winter Olympics run Friday, Feb. 9, through Sunday, Feb. 25.
The first Olympic experience for Summer came in 2014, when a then-19-year-old was considered a surprise addition to the American team. She would go on to a 15th-place finish in Sochi, Russia.
Since then, Summer has improved in various ways, both on and off the track, while becoming one of the nation’s best luge performers.
Summer’s recent success in luge has seen her steadily improve on the World Cup circuit, leading to a career-best third-place overall finish this season. She set the U.S. record for singles World Cup luge victories along the way.
All of this has propelled Summer into a solid group that could contend for a spot on the podium in Pyeongchang.
“I wish for her to be up on that top podium, with our flag going up and her hand on her heart, and me of course with a couple tears in my eyes,” Carrie Britcher said. “And I want to see our flag going up, and our national anthem being played and our baby on that top podium. That’s my wish.”
If she is to medal, Summer will no doubt need to produce four of the best runs of her life.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Bill Britcher said. “I believe she is mentally in a better place, the maturity that comes along with doing this and competing at this level, I don’t know how you can teach someone that. I guess it’s a learned experience of how to handle herself. … She’s talking about taking it one race at a time and not getting overwhelmed. She’s working on that.”
A little more hectic the second time: Summer’s heightened chances at contending also have heightened the nerves for the Britchers. Despite being experienced in Olympic travel, they admittedly underestimated the preparation — banking on the extra time allotted by Summer locking up her Olympic team spot much earlier the second time around.
As they were in the process of preparing for their Saturday, Feb. 3, departure, the Britchers readily admitted a number of tasks remained. Lodging still needed to be figured out as far as two weeks out and plans for activities beyond luge still needed to be logistically worked out.
“It’s a rush, at times it’s exciting, and at times it’s overwhelming,” Bill Britcher said. “Somehow I thought this time we could kind of anticipate it leading up with the past couple of years. It’s a lot to put together. It’s a lot of commitment from the athletes themselves, it’s a lot of commitment from the families and the parents and the support networks, it’s a lot of commitment from the sponsors.”
Another one of those tasks involved having T-shirts made that the Britchers plan on sporting and passing out while in South Korea.
The idea comes on the heels of the success of their handout during the 2014 Games. While in Sochi, the Britchers had small American flags that soon garnered the interest of local Russian children.
One flag handed out to a child soon became two, and before they knew it, the Britchers were overrun with requests.
They also hope to tour Seoul and visit the famed Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.
Taking in some of the culture and meeting new people are Olympic thrills that the Britchers are looking to repeat. They found their previous hosts to be welcoming and are expecting more of the same the second time around.
“They’re no different than us. Looking to raise a family, looking to have a good time, to enjoy life,” Bill Britcher said.
— Elijah Armold is a sports reporter at The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.