November 15, 2013

LUGE: Clukey ready for season

Augusta native pain-free, happy

By Tim Reynolds

Ap Sports Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2013, file phot, Julia Clukey of the United States, competes during the first run in the women's luge event at the luge World Championships at the Whistler Sliding Centre in Whistler, British Columbia. This is how the first few months of 2010 went for Clukey: qualified for the Olympics, slogged through the season in agony, popped painkillers, accidentally met a doctor who wound up saving her career. Then came her sister's suicide. Now, stronger, she enters another Olympic season. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward, File)

Midway through the four-year Olympic cycle, Clukey was not on the international circuit and training alone. Turns out, that was what she needed.

“It was a blessing,” Clukey said. “It gave me time to heal mentally, just being by myself, not feeling pressure, not having to listen to anyone. If I woke up and didn’t want to slide, I didn’t have to slide. It also gave me a lot of time to test things with my equipment and really understand how my sled works and what’s best for me as an athlete. I never had gotten a chance to do that.”

Last season was a breakthrough, when Clukey won her first medal on the World Cup tour, a silver in Lake Placid. Her nephew was there for that one. Another Olympic season has now arrived, and Clukey — whose inspiration for trying out for luge in 1997 was, of all things, a free T-shirt — is ready for the challenge.

“The Germans are going to be tough,” Clukey said. “The Russians are going to be tough with their home-track advantage. But I’m going to do everything I can to keep moving forward and make sure that I’m ready too.”

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