January 19, 2012

LUGE: Olympian Clukey opens camp for girls

By Gary Hawkins ghawkins@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

MANCHESTER -- Olympian Julia Clukey of Augusta took a break from luge training at Lake Placid, N.Y., to address students Wednesday at Manchester Elementary School and announce a new summer camp she plans to host for girls in June.

click image to enlarge

ON TRACK: Julia Clukey, of Augusta, discusses competing in Olympic luge Wednesday at Manchester Elementary School. Clukey announced at the event the formation of an athletic camp for girls to be held this summer at the YMCA camp that she will host.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Julia Clukey's Camp for Girls will be held June 20-30 at Camp KV on Maranacook Lake in Readfield. The announcement was made in conjunction with the Kennebec Valley YMCA of Augusta and Manchester and the Maine Beer and Wine Distributors Association for which Clukey is a spokesperson.

The camp is designed for girls entering grades 4-7 to promote self-confidence and a healthy lifestyle.

"I'm excited about it," Clukey said. "Teaming up with the Kennebec Valley YMCA where I grew up basically. I've been going there all my life. Something I'm really passionate about is being a role model for young girls as they get to a point in their life where they start figuring out what they want to do."

"It's a nice setup," KV YMCA executive director Mark Yerrick said. "You've got 2,500 feet of frontage on 23 acres. We can hold up to 150 children. The girls camp will run for two weeks and the rest of the camp will run for seven weeks after that."

The girls camp runs daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with pickups and dropoffs at both local YMCA campuses. The cost is $299 for member, $350 for non-members and includes lunch, snacks, drinks and an overnight session.

The camp, which was purchased by the Y in 1986, is in good shape, according to Yerrick. Improvements are planned for the director's cabin and the main lodge thanks in part to a $25,000 donation from Nick Alberding, president of the Maine Beer and Wine Distributors Association, and two of his cousins.

Clukey, 26, is not competing on the World Cup luge circuit this winter. She underwent surgery last March to correct a congenital condition at the base of her skull that limited blood flow to her spinal column. Because of the surgery and recovery time, she was not ready to compete at the start of the season.

"I've been sliding full-time for a little over a month," she said. "It's going really well. I'm just staying domestic this year, sliding at Lake Placid and Park City, Utah. I have some competitions coming up in late February, early March."

Clukey, who finished 17th at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010, has her sights set on competing in Sochi, Russia in 2014.

"Being in Lake Placid, I have full access to the medical facilities there and that's been a big part of being able to stay healthy and stay on the sled," she said.

Clukey said she has confidence in her ability to compete for the U.S. both at the World Cup and Olympic level. Her best finish in a World Cup race is fourth.

"I know everything I need to do to be the best competitor I can be and I still have full confidence in myself," she said.

Although Clukey misses the World Cup competition in Europe, she doesn't miss lugging around sled boxes that weigh up to 200 pounds and taking long rides in a van from venue to venue with six or eight of her teammates.

"I've been doing it for eight years," she said. "It's not a very glorious life."

Also training in Lake Placid, Clukey gets 25 luge runs in a week, while she would only be making six a week in Europe.

"I expect to be back next year fill-time," she said.

Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638


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