Two-time Olympian Summer Britcher’s success continued at Saturday’s luge world cup season opener in Innsbruck, Austria, with the 25-year-old taking a silver medal in the women’s singles race.
Amidst windy conditions and nearly balmy temperatures, Britcher clocked 40.693 seconds for her first heat – the fourth-best time – and followed up with 40.721 seconds on her second, where she reached a speed of more than 109 km/hour for a combined time of 1:21.414.
That combined time moved her ahead of Jessica Tiebel and reigning world silver medalist Julia Taubitz, German teammates who tied for bronze in 1:21.468. Three-time singles world medalist Tatyana Ivanova overcame having only the 13th-best first run with a blistering second effort that was the class of the field, giving the Russian the win with an overall time of 1:21.304.
“This is my best ever start to a season,” Britcher said. “I had a really tough time last year. But now I’m pumped and looking forward to the new winter season. My aim is to be as proud of my performance as I can be every weekend.”
Her previous best season-opening result was sixth, also on this track last season. This is Britcher’s seventh season on the senior world cup circuit.
Britcher’s podium finish is the latest in a run of success for the luger who won team relay gold at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Innsbruck 2012, which took place on the same track as this weekend’s world cup. Britcher has five world cup career victories to her name, making her the all-time singles leader in USA Luge history. The Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, native finished third in the world cup standings the past two seasons and successfully defended her U.S. title against fellow 2018 Olympian Emily Sweeney earlier this month.
Brittney Arndt finished 13th in the women’s competition in Innsbruck, followed by Ashley Farquharson in 15th at her first world cup. Sweeney, coming off a bronze medal at last year’s world championships, was 24th.
In the doubles race that followed, the U.S. team of Olympians Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman returned after an injury-shortened last season. Competing on a new custom-designed sled, they finished 17th.
Mazdzer, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist in men’s singles, will join Tucker West and Jonny Gustafson in Sunday’s men’s race. A team relay will conclude the Innsbruck World Cup.