Julia Clukey of Augusta continued her quest for a second straight berth on the U.S. Olympic luge team Saturday evening, placing 10th during a World Cup event at Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, on the same course she raced during the 2010 Olympic Games.
The 28-year-old Clukey — who placed 17th at the Vancouver Olympics — was third among American competitors at Whistler in her best finish of the fall World Cup schedule, with teammates Erin Hamlin placing fifth and and Kate Hansen in sixth.
Three women’s singles competitors will be among the 10-member U.S. luge team that will compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February.
Hamlin, the 2009 world champion from Remsen, N.Y., verified her nomination to the Olympic team with her finish at Whistler based on her combined finishes at the first four of five World Cup stops this season.
“It’s really nice to get it out of the way,” Hamlin said in a USA Luge press release. “It’s a big relief … I feel a lot better, and I can enjoy Salt Lake a little bit more.”
That was a reference to next week’s fifth and final World Cup stop on the 2002 Olympic track, followed by the formal announcement of the USA Luge Olympic contingent on Dec. 14.
Hansen of La Canada, Calif., also moved closer to securing a ticket to Sochi with her sixth-place effort, while Clukey and Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., who placed 15th at Whistler, are competing for the third spot.
A top-nine effort for either in next week’s World Cup event in Park City, Utah, would satisfy a Sochi selection criteria, though Clukey has now finished 13th, 12th, 19th and 10th in the first four World Cup stops.
The potential also exists, however, for a race-off to decide unresolved Sochi nominations in all disciplines on Dec. 14. Each nation may enter three sleds each in men’s and women’s singles and two doubles teams at the Sanki Sliding Centre in Krasnaya Polyana.
World Cup points leader and 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Natalie Geisenberger of Germany won the Whistler event, her fourth straight World Cup singles victory. She has the tour lead with a perfect 400 World Cup points.
Geisenberger’s overall World Cup points lead is 400-261 over Canadian Alex Gough. Hamlin, with all four results between fifth and eighth places, is fifth in the standings with 197 points, while Hansen is tied for ninth at 146, Clukey is 13th with 120 and Britcher is tied for 19th with 89 points.
The World Cup schedule for Park City has doubles and women’s singles competition Friday with men’s singles and the team relay on Saturday.
USA Luge will announce its Olympic nominees next Saturday in the Utah Olympic Park museum.