Glen Rock's Summer Britcher enjoys breakthrough performance at luge world championships
- Summer Britcher earned her first-ever medal at the luge world championships.
- The Susquehannock High grad was part of the U.S. relay team that took third.
- Britcher also had two seventh-place individual finishes at the event in Russia.
Glen Rock's Summer Britcher is returning home from the luge world championships with three top-10 finishes, including a bronze medal — her first-ever medal at the prestigious event.
The Susquehannock High School graduate and her U.S. teammates took third on Sunday in the team relay event in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
The Americans caught a huge break when the host Russians were disqualified from the relay, which was the final event of the competition.
Britcher, Tucker West and the doubles team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman were sitting in third place with one team left to slide. That would be Russia, which had Ekaterina Katnikova, Roman Repilov and the doubles team of Aleksandr Denisev, and Vladislav Antonov – all of whom had won world championships earlier in the weekend – entered in the relay.
Katnikova was first down the 2014 Olympic track, and before Repilov could begin she needed to smack a touchpad suspended from the top of the chute as she crossed the finish line. Katinkova reached up a split-second too late, missed the pad entirely and the Russians were disqualified on the spot.
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“We didn’t have the highest hopes to be beating Russia but anything can happen with the relay,” Britcher said. “I can’t even describe what a moment that was and how incredible it was to share it with my three amazing teammates. … Just absolutely incredible.”
Earlier in the championships, Briticher finished seventh in both the women's singles event on Saturday and the women's sprint event on Friday. The two-time Olympian had entered the world meet sixth in the season-long women's World Cup standings.
The team relay bronze became the 18th world championships medal in USA Luge history. It was the second world championships medal for West and Terdiman, who were part of USA Luge’s silver in the team relay at worlds in Innsbruck in 2017. Britcher and Mazdzer won a world championships medal for the first time.
Germany won the team relay title, with Latvia second and the Americans third.
Repilov won the men’s world title earlier Sunday, prevailing after Olympic champion David Gleirscher of Austria – the leader after the first of the two heats – lost control of his sled in the second run and couldn’t finish. Austria took silver and bronze in the men’s race, with Jonas Mueller second and Wolfgang Kindl third. For the Americans, West was 14th in the men’s race, with Jonny Gustafson 17th and Mazdzer taking 19th.
Russia won five gold medals over the course of the weekend and eight medals overall. Germany had two golds and five medals, Austria finished with three medals, Latvia and Italy won two apiece and the U.S. won one.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.