(AP) — Summer Britcher seems to be peaking at precisely the right time.
Britcher won gold for the U.S. in the women’s World Cup luge sprint race at Lillehammer, Norway on Sunday for her second victory on the circuit in as many days. Britcher now is third in the overall World Cup standings, with a very realistic chance of getting to the No. 2 spot at next weekend’s World Cup finale in Sigulda, Latvia.
“Feels pretty good,” said Britcher, a native of Glen Rock, Pa. who is heading to her second Olympics.
The weekend wins gave Britcher five World Cup gold medals in her career, a record for any USA Luge slider in individual events on the circuit. Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin won 11 golds in World Cup races as a doubles team, and Remsen native Erin Hamlin has six golds on the circuit — not including her two world championship golds, but factoring in her two from team relay events.
Hamlin finished ninth on Saturday in the women’s singles race won by Britcher.
Britcher also has five World Cup medals this season. Only a trio of Germans — Natalie Geisenberger (13), Tatjana Huefner (six) and Dajana Eitberger (six) — have more, with Geisenberger already having locked up her sixth consecutive World Cup points title and Huefner leading Britcher by 33 points in the race for second with two events left next weekend. The best finish by a U.S. woman in the World Cup season standings was second by Cameron Myler in 1991-92. Myler also has a third-place World Cup overall finish on her resume, as does Hamlin.
Suddenly, with the Pyeongchang Games nearing, Britcher has a whole slew of momentum. “It’s drawing ever closer,” Britcher said in a postrace interview with the International Luge Federation on Sunday. “I’ve just got to take each race as an opportunity to kind of train mentally for the Olympics and for that big one, that big race coming up.”
Germany has always been, and still is, the biggest power in luge , especially women’s luge. But the Americans are closing the gap: Hamlin is coming off an Olympic bronze at the Sochi Games, Emily Sweeney won a World Cup gold earlier this season and now Britcher — dogged by injuries in recent years — is clearly rounding into her best form of the season.
“My goal is to be on the podium,” Britcher said. “I think it’s going to take a lot of luck and a lot of things going perfectly but my goal is to bring home a medal.”