Summer Britcher knew that the 2022 Beijing Olympics were going to be like nothing she has experienced, despite this being her third time competing in the games.
“I’m expecting to have three wildly different Olympic experiences,” world champion Luger told Gadget Clock shortly after qualifying for the Olympics in early January.
Britcher, 27, from Maryland, told Gadget Clock she first tried for the niche sport as an 11-year-old while on vacation with her family skiing. In an effort to expose more kids to the sport, USA Luge had opened a course at the resort.
An administrator recruited Britcher after she posted impressive times and showed a competitive edge.
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“It’s obviously a high adrenaline rush,” she told Gadget Clock, noting that she was hooked after her first run. “I’m going 80 plus miles per hour down a banked sheet of ice with very little protection… having to make all these precise, tiny steers and flowing with the pressures of the track, all timed to the thousandth of a second,” Britcher told Gadget Clock.
“So it’s very high-risk, very small margin of error for actually finding that level of perfection,” she continued.
Nearly 16 years after her first ride, Britcher is still chasing her dream of getting a medal at the Olympic Games.
“For my first Olympics in Sochi, Russia, I was very much an underdog,” she said. “I think the only person who really believed that I was going to qualify was my mom.”
“I kind of took it as a learning experience,” Britcher said of her first Olympics.
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In Sochi, she failed to place. In the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, she was a medal contender, but again did not place.
“I had some pretty big mistakes and ultimately came away pretty disappointed,” the Olympian said.
“I’m happy to say I’ve done everything I feel like I could prepare for” Beijing 2022, Britcher said. “But now it’s just time to focus on putting all the little pieces together.”
She described what her training looked like under COVID-19 protocols and noted how they would change the games’ dynamic.
“Now, for my third Olympics, I had all of that experience to learn from, combined with the Olympics being held during a worldwide pandemic,” Britcher told Gadget Clock. “So it’s definitely going to make things different.”
“Gyms across the country were closed down,” she said. “That included being able to use the facilities at the Olympic Training Center.”
Despite the training facility being designed to accommodate hundreds of athletes, only eight trained at the facility in Lake Placid, Britcher said.
“There were eight of us in the whole building, but we still weren’t able to use the gym at all just because of the regulations,” she said.
Another change is that these Olympics, like those held last summer in Tokyo, will lack spectators, according to Britcher.
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“I was very lucky to be able to have my whole family come and watch me compete in the last two Olympics, so that would be a huge difference,” she said. “I really feel for all of the first-time Olympians, that they’re going to be… missing out on kind of all those magical elements of the Olympics.”
Britcher told Gadget Clock how she will miss completing an event and seeing her family and friends cheering at the finish – what she considers one of the most special parts of the Olympics.
Britcher did not place for the women’s luge singles finals Tuesday and finished 23rd overall. She is expected to compete in the team relay luge Feb. 10.