Britcher finishes 15th in snowy conditions during final World Cup luge race of season

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
Summer Britcher

Summer Britcher’s final World Cup luge race of 2021 in St. Moritz, Switzerland, was marred by a heavy, all-day snowfall.

The two-time Olympian from Glen Rock finished 15th in the women’s race, which produced a relatively unknown winner.

The team relay event was then canceled when track workers could not keep up with the accumulating snow on the classic, long and uncovered Olympia run. The U.S. was the only nation to complete the relay before it was called off.

Britcher improved her second run by a whopping 0.6 of a second and elevated herself from 19th after one heat to 15th place at the end. She was the top American finisher.

Elina Ieva Vitola of Latvia was the surprise winner of the women’s race, followed by Germany’s Julia Taubitz and Switzerland’s Natalie Maag.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger clinched her eighth World Cup overall championship Sunday with a 13th-place finish. She won seven consecutive World Cups from 2012-13 through 2018-19, took last season off for the birth of her first child and reclaimed the crystal globe this winter. Taubitz, who won the overall title last year in Geisenberger’s absence, took second this season.

Germany, to no one’s surprise, was again the dominant nation in luge this winter – winning 61 of the 123 medals handed out on the World Cup circuit as well as 12 of the 21 medals at last month’s world championships.

USA Luge, which skipped the first half of the season because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and international travel, finished the year with one medal. Britcher won a bronze at Igls, Austria, two weeks ago.

USA Luge is scheduled to return to Lake Placid on Monday and go into quarantine. The rest of the season will find the Americans training at Mount Van Hoevenberg and perhaps Park City in February and March before the U.S. tracks close for the season.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com. The Associated Press and USA Luge contributed to this story.