Augusta’s Clukey, Portland native Sweeney to make final bids for spots on Winter Olympics team

Posted Dec. 11, 2013, at 3:58 p.m.

Two U.S. luge competitors with Maine connections will have their Olympic fates determined this weekend at the final World Cup race of the season in the Wasatch Mountains outside Park City, Utah.

Julia Clukey of Augusta and Emily Sweeney, a Portland native now living in Suffield, Conn., still are in contention for berths on the U.S. Olympic team that will compete in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

USA Luge will announce its Sochi nominees, pending U.S. Olympic Committee approval, Saturday night. Each country can enter three men’s singles, three women’s singles and two doubles sleds, with team rosters for the new team relay in Sochi to be determined from the 10 members.

Here’s where the selection process for the women’s team stands entering Friday’s race:

One U.S. woman already has verified her nomination, with Erin Hamlin’s fifth-place World Cup finish last Saturday at Whistler, British Columbia, securing her third trip to the Winter Olympics.

Kate Hansen, the 2008 Junior World Champion from of La Canada, Calif., also has satisfied the selection criteria with sixth- and seventh-place efforts already this season — despite breaking a bone in her foot during an October training accident on the Utah Olympic Park course.

Another women’s singles athlete, Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., has an eighth-place World Cup finish to her credit this season, and a top-nine Friday would enable her to achieve the selection criteria.

Then there’s Clukey, who finished 17th at the 2010 Winter Olympics on the Whistler course just outside Vancouver, British Columbia. A top-five this weekend sends her to Sochi, but there is the possibility of a race-off pending Friday’s results. Clukey has finished 13th, 12th, 19th and 10th in this season’s first four World Cup stops.

Clukey will be supported in Park City by her mother and nephew, according to USA Luge, and she also will have the memory of a fifth-place World Cup finish on the same course three years ago.

If Britcher and Clukey miss the selection criteria, the door would open for Sweeney and a three-way race-off would ensue. Sweeney won the 2013 Junior World Championship 11 months ago in Park City.

The Park City women’s singles race is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday, with World Cup action streamed live on UniversalSports.com. There also will be live timing and scoring on www.fil-luge.org

NBC Sports Network will air a two-hour show at 9 p.m. Monday on the Park City competitions and U.S. Olympic team nominations.

Three Mainers on U.S. freestyle moguls team

Three Maine skiers have been selected as members of the 2014 U.S. Freestyle Moguls Team.

Jeremy Cota of Carrabassett Valley, Dave DiGravio of Farmington and Troy Murphy of Bethel were among 20 skiers named to the team in advance of the Dec. 14 FIS Freestyle World Cup season opener in Ruka, Finland.

Cota, who trains out of the Steamboat Springs (Colo.) Winter Sports Club, was named to the U.S. “B” team, while DiGravio and Murphy were selected to the “C” team.

Cota, a two-time U.S. champion, is a fifth-year member of the national team, though his progress earlier this season was hampered by a heel bone bruise. DiGravio, a U.S. national team member for eight years, also is bouncing back after being slowed by a knee injury last winter.

Murphy is one of four newcomers added to the team in November based on his strong performances in the junior ranks last winter.

The U.S. freestyle moguls team is led by Olympic champion Hannah Kearney of Norwich, Vt., and Olympic bronze medalist Bryon Wilson of Butte, Mont.

The World Cup tour includes two U.S. stops, on Jan. 9-11 for the Visa Freestyle International at Utah’s Deer Valley Resort followed by the USANA Freestyle World Cup Jan. 15-18 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The final U.S. Olympic team will be named in late January.

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