Glen Rock's Summer Britcher clinches another Olympic luge berth

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
Summer Britcher of the U.S. reacts after the women's competition at the Luge Sprint World Cup 2021/2022 in Sochi, Russia, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Ekaterina Lyzlova)

Summer Britcher is headed back to the Olympics.

The Susquehannock High School graduate from Glen Rock clinched a berth for the Beijing Winter Games on Sunday after a fifth-place finish in a World Cup women’s singles competition in Winterberg, Germany.

The full U.S. team will be formally nominated later this month. The Beijing Games are set for Feb. 4 through Feb. 20.

“Beijing here I come,” Britcher tweeted.

It will mark the third consecutive Winter Olympics for Britcher, who also competed in the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, and the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She finished 15th in the Sochi Games and 19th in the Pyeongchang Games in the women’s competition. In South Korea, she was part of an American team relay that narrowly missed out on an Olympic bronze medal, taking fourth.

Her fifth-place finish in Winterberg was her best individual finish of the World Cup season in the traditional two-heat women’s competition.

Britcher did win a silver medal in a women’s sprint competition in early December in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, near Sochi. The sprint event is a one-heat dash where the sliders, from their usual start heights, generate about 100 meters of momentum before the timing is triggered, hence the “flying-start” concept to begin each run.

In addition to her fifth-place run at Winterberg, Britcher was part of a United States team relay that took a third-place finish. Latvia won the team-relay gold, with Austria in second. The American bronze-medal team included Britcher, Tucker West and the doubles team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman. It was the second team relay medal of the season for USA Luge, which grabbed silver in the season-opening relay on the new track in Yanqing, China, that will be used for the Beijing Olympics next month.

“We always race really well together,” Britcher said about the relay team on the USA Luge website. “This is a great team. Happy to have a good result to end a tough week here in Winterberg with some bad conditions.”

In the women’s race at Winterberg, Germany’s Julia Taubitz rallied to overtake fellow German slider Natalie Geisenberger in the second heat to claim the gold. Madeleine Egle was third for Austria.

Britcher relfected on her fifth-place finish by saying: “This race was one of the races where I was showing more kind of average potential for speed, but I was able to have a little bit of consistency with the changing weather conditions here and a little bit of luck on my side I was able to have my best regular-format World Cup result of the season.”

In the overall World Cup women’s luge standings for 2021-2022, Britcher sits in seventh place after eight World Cup events. Taubitz is first, followed by Egle and Germany’s Anna Berreiter. Britcher is the only U.S. woman in the top 12.

The World Cup luge series moves to Sigulda, Latvia, next weekend.

“In other races, I was showing more speed but haven’t been able to put it together for two runs,” Britcher said about her women's singles runs. “This was not really a week where I was expecting to get this result but I’m very happy with it and to take that stress off my shoulders going into the next weekend and really just enjoy competing in Sigulda.”

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com or @ydsports. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.