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Olympic Luger Gets Grand Sendoff From Her Family Of Baltimore Firefighters

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(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Going for gold. A young Olympian is on her way to Russia to compete in the Winter Games. Thursday, she got a sendoff from Baltimore City firefighters, the mayor and a former Olympic gold medalist.

Rochelle Ritchie has more on the athlete’s local ties.

It’s a story of fire and ice. A young Olympian with a generation of Baltimore City firefighters in her family is turning up the heat in Russia, competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

It’s a grand sendoff for Summer Britcher, a young woman ranked at the top of her class in women’s luge, now set to showcase her skills in Russia.

“I’m honored that you are all here, and I hope I can represent you well,” Britcher said.

The young Olympian’s father, grandfather and uncles are all current and former firefighters with Engine 29 in Baltimore City. She is now taking the fire to the ice, where she qualified for a spot on the women’s luge team earlier this month for the Olympics.

“There aren’t words to describe how much that means to me,” said Britcher.

Joined by city firefighters, family and gold medalist Kimmie Meissner, Britcher is all set to bring home a gold medal.

Britcher is just 19 years old and says she fell in love with the sport eight years ago while skiing.

Even with all of her successes, Britcher’s career has taken some dangerous and sharp turns.

YouTube video of Summer competing shows the heart stopping moments as her body slams against the ice tunnel at more than 80 miles per hour. She stopped just short of the finish line.

“I’ve crashed several times when I was younger, learning the sport. It seems like it might be a terrifying thing, but I was just mostly upset that I crashed during the race,” Britcher said.

It’s those sort of mishaps figure skating gold medalist Kimmie Meissner says can turn an athlete into a champion.

“It’s really something about perseverance and just mental toughness to be able to go back through that not think about the crash or not think about the fall,” Meissner said.

Summer’s father, Captain Francis Britcher, says he and several other firefighters will be on the sidelines, cheering his daughter on as she flies feet first to an Olympic medal.

The station is already sporing its Winter Olympics gear in support.

“Summer has that spirit where she’s a true competitor. I think she thrives and enjoys competition,” her father said.

Summer leaves for Germany Friday before heading to Russia in the next few weeks.

The Winter Games begin in February.

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