Glen Rock's Summer Britcher has started Olympic luge competition: See where she stands

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
A crowd cheers for Susquehannock High School graduate Summer Britcher while watching a broadcast as she begins her first run of the women's luge competition at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. About 25 people attended the event, at American Legion Post 403 in Glen Rock, to watch Britcher compete in her third Olympics. Bill Kalina photo

More:Glen Rock's Summer Britcher crashes during Olympics luge competition: The latest

The Tail of the Dragon got the best of Glen Rock’s Summer Britcher on Monday morning.

The Susquehannock High School graduate struggled at the bottom of the course during the first run of the women’s luge competition at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

The course at the Yanqing National Sliding Center is nicknamed the Flying Snow Dragon and the end section of the course is known as the Tail of Dragon. It is considered especially treacherous.

More:Glen Rock luger Summer Britcher enjoys her fastest run of 2022 Olympics on Tuesday

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Glen Rock’s Britcher lost control of her sled near the end of the first run and was barely able to finish. She was fortunate to escape the run uninjured. She ended up in 29th position among the 35 competitors in the field after the first run. Britcher finished that first run in 1:00.986.

Summer Britcher, of the United States, crashes during the luge women's singles run 1 at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing.(AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Despite her rough first run, Britcher seemed to take the performance in stride. She blew a kiss to the crowd and and bowed for the cameras. She also thanked the television viewers for watching.

Britcher fared much better during her second run, finishing in 59.156 seconds, which was the 15th-best time in the second run.

Overall, after the first two runs, Britcher is 26th with a combined time of 2:00.142.

“I’m a little sad, but I’m OK and I’m also happy because I’m here,” Britcher said in an Associated Press story. “I’m competing at the Olympics. The one thing, when I decided to commit to another four years, I decided somewhere along the way that whatever the outcome — win, lose, crash, track record, mistakes — I wanted to come away feeling joyful for having competed at this level and joyful for the experience.”

Germans dominate: Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger leads the event after two runs with a time of 1:56.825, followed by another German, Anna Berreiter in 1:57.033. Russia's Tatyana Ivanova is third in 1:57.416. Geisenberger is looking to become the first three-time women’s singles gold medalist in Olympic history.

“I may not sleep that well tonight,” Geisenberger told the Associated Press.

Ashley Farquharson is the top American after two runs. She is 18th in 1:58.996. The other American in the field is Emily Sweeney, who is 28th in 2:01.410.

Summer Britcher, of the United States, slides during the luge women's singles run 2 at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

The luger with the best time after four combined runs will win the gold medal.

The women's luge will conclude with two more runs on Tuesday morning, so Britcher will have two more opportunities to improve her position, although her first run almost certainly eliminated her from medal contention.

This is Britcher’s third Olympics. She was 15th in 2014 in Russia and 19th in 2018 in South Korea.

Britcher was not the only luger to struggle with the Flying Snow Dragon. Many of the best in the world were no match for the Yanqing Sliding Center.

Julia Taubitz and Madeleine Egle were, by far, the best in the women’s luge world all season. They won almost every race, finished in the top two spots of the World Cup standings and were supposed to be the ones who ended Geisenberger’s Olympic reign.

Nope. Egle slipped in the first run and is 1.010 seconds — forever in luge — behind Geisenberger, only in seventh place. Taubitz, the first-run leader, crashed in her second run and slipped all the way to 14th place.

Dealing with a broken finger: The 27-year-old Britcher is competing with a broken middle finger on her left hand, an injury she suffered last month. It is almost certainly hampering her performance in China.

Lugers wear gloves with tiny spikes on the bottom of their fingertips and dig into the ice as they paddle at the start and look to build momentum to propel them down the track.

Because of her broken finger, Britcher can’t use her fingertips, so she’s using her knuckles to dig into the ice as she paddles, using earplugs — the soft, pliable, silicon kind — inside her gloves to serve as padding.

“I felt very confident,” Britcher said after Monday's action on the USA Luge webstie. “I felt very solid. That wasn’t nerves. I had a great final training run, and it’s just the nature of the sport. I had an OK curve 13. I came back a little heavy on my right shoulder and caused a skid.” 

The third run of the women's luge will start at 6:50 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, followed immediately by the fourth run. Both runs will be shown live by the Peacock streaming service, which is free to Xfinity customers.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports. The Associated Press contributed to this story.