Julia Clukey isn’t ready to forgo her competitive urges just yet.
The 2010 U.S. Olympic luger from Augusta, who nearly qualified for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, only to come up 13 one-thousandths of a second short, told 40 young participants Tuesday at her summer camp on Maranacook Lake in Readfield that she will continue to compete in her chosen sport for at least one more season.
The 29-year-old Clukey stopped short of committing to pursue a spot on the U.S. luge team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“Luge is a sport that is based a lot on experience and the number of runs that you can get in to make you a better competitor,” Clukey said in a news release. “As I look ahead, I am focused on staying healthy and putting myself in the best position to compete at the highest level.
“As I continue to set goals for myself, I am focused on getting better every time I get on the track. I have certainly thought about the 2018 Olympics but a lot can happen in four years. I always get excited any time I get to represent our great country, especially at the Olympics.”
Clukey, who earlier this year was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, also announced that she will continue her relationship as a spokeswoman for the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association. During the past four years she has made presentations to more than 10,000 students from more than 30 high schools across the state about the importance of setting goals, overcoming adversity and making good decisions.
That relationship with the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association includes Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls, now in its third year. The 10-day camp, which concludes Friday, is designed for girls entering fourth through eighth grades as a place to develop self-confidence and a healthy lifestyle.
Clukey was 12 when she began a luge career that has been highlighted by her 17th-place finish in women’s singles at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, winning the 2012 U.S.National Championship and winning two silver medals in World Cup competition.
She was seen as a top contender to return to the Winter Olympics in 2014, but at the final qualifying event in Park City, Utah, she placed sixth overall, one spot short of the top-five finish that would have earned her a trip to Sochi.
Clukey’s combined two-run time on the Park City course was 1 minute, 28.003 seconds, just behind fifth-place Dajana Eitberger of Germany, whose two runs totaled 1:27.990.
Clukey did not return to the World Cup circuit after the near-miss, but she concluded the 2013-14 season by winning a gold medal at the national seeding races in Lake Placid, New York.
She subsequently was named to the U.S. national team in May, and her decision to compete next season will provide her the opportunity to compete in World Cup events next season, including the U.S. National Championships set for Dec. 5-6 in Lake Placid.
“I am really excited about the opportunities that I have in front of me in the sport of luge,” said Clukey, also an athlete representative on the USA Luge board of directors. “As I tell high school students and the campers, it’s important to set goals for yourself so you can go after them. I still feel like I have a lot of goals that I can accomplish on and off the luge track.
“My decision today is also the result of support from my family, coaches, friends and fans. I am so grateful to them and want to thank them for their support.”