Glen Rock's Summer Britcher finishes 15th in her season debut on World Cup luge circuit

Summer Britcher of United States speeds down the track during a women's race at the Luge World Cup event in Sigulda, Latvia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Britcher placed first after the first run. (AP Photo/Roman Koksarov)

KONIGSSEE, Germany – Glen Rock's Summer Britcher has returned to World Cup luge action.

Her first start of the season, however, likely didn't turn out the way she had hoped.

Britcher finished 15th in the women's race on Sunday in Germany.

The U.S. lugers have rejoined the international World Cup sliding circuit after they all stayed home for the first half of the season because of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two-time Olympian with five World Cup victories in her career was the top-ranked American in the final 2020 World Cup standings at fifth.

Friday marked the first day of actual international competition for American sliders, with USA Luge taking part in a Nation’s Cup race, also in Königssee. Britcher was third in that women’s race.

USA Luge athletes and coaches all had to get three negative COVID-19 tests in a three-day span before rejoining the circuit, and the International Luge Federation has been able to pull off four race weekends already this season without any major virus issues.

USA Luge could compete in six events over the next six weekends, including the world championships in Königssee at the end of January. In last year’s world championship, Britcher was part of the U.S. relay team that won a bronze medal.

Julia Taubitz of Germany got her fifth win of the women’s World Cup luge season in Sunday's action, closing the gap between her and series leader Natalie Geisenberger in the overall women’s standings to four points.

Geisenberger, also of Germany, finished second – her seventh silver medal in seven races this season. Madeleine Egle of Austria took third.

Geisenberger now has 595 points on the season as she seeks an eighth overall title in nine years; she didn’t compete last season after giving birth to her first child. Taubitz, last season’s overall women’s champion, has 591 points.

Emily Sweeney was the top U.S. finisher, placing 10th in her first World Cup of the season. Also for the U.S. women, Ashley Farquharson took 13th and Brittney Arndt 16th.

Austria capped the day with a win in the team relay, followed by Germany and Russia. The U.S. team of Britcher and Jonny Gustafson and the doubles sled of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman was sixth.

Reach Steve Heiser at The Associated Press contributed to this story.