With Olympics looming, Susquehannock grad Summer Britcher suffers injury

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)

Summer Britcher has been given license to flip off anybody who asks about her recent injury, and she may be in the mood to do just that.

The Susquehannock High School graduate is set to compete in the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics next month for Team USA Luge, but her ability to earn a medal has potentially taken a significant hit.

Britcher shared over the weekend that she broke the distal bone on the middle finger of her left hand during a crash in Latvia on Jan. 9.

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With less than a month until her first race at the Olympics, Britcher still plans to compete in Beijing, but won’t race during World Cup events while her rivals continue to prepare.

“I will still be competing in Beijing, and with such a great team supporting me, I am confident that I will be recovered enough to pull and paddle my way to some fast start times in the Olympics,” Britcher wrote in an Instagram post. “Until then, no starts for me.”

There are sports where a broken finger isn’t much an issue. Luge, however, is not one of them. Britcher will need to use her middle finger constantly during her runs, as she mentioned in her injury announcement.

“What an inconvenience that I do the one sport where you repeatedly slam your fingertips into the ground as hard as you can,” Britcher wrote.

In her first opportunity to compete after the injury on Sunday at the Eberspacher World Cup event in Oberhof, Germany, Britcher sat out the main event. According to the USA Luge website, without the ability to start comfortably and accelerate the sled with her padded gloves, Britcher only completed one training run.

The Beijing Olympics will mark Britcher’s third time representing Team USA at the highest level. At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, she finished No. 14 in women’s singles. In 2018 at the PyeongChang Games in South Korea, Britcher was No. 18 in women’s singles and finished fourth in the team relay with her American teammates.

During this luge season, Britcher is 11th in the overall World Cup women’s standings, with a best finish of second in a sprint event at Sochi, Russia, in early December. She was also part of a third-place U.S. team relay at Winterberg, Germany, in early January.

Her five all-time first-place World Cup finishes rank her as No. 1 in USA Luge history.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.