AUGUSTA — Now 30, Julia Clukey can see the end of her luge career. On Monday, the Augusta native who competed at the 2010 Winter Olympics announced that she’ll make a run at competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics before retiring from luge.

Clukey is at peace with that.

“2018 is it for me, 100 percent,” Clukey said during a press conference in Augusta Monday. “But I feel good knowing that. I think some people get freaked out by it, but I feel I have really good balance. All the things I’ve been able to build in the community are almost more important to me.”

Speaking at the Senator Inn, Clukey made her announcement while discussing her continued work with the Kennebec Valley YMCA on her summer camp for girls and her work with the Maine Beer and Wine Distributors Association speaking to teens around the state about making good choices in chasing their goals. The program, dubbed “Julia Inspires,” will continue with presentations at Maine middle and high schools this spring, when Clukey’s luge season is complete.

“I love sliding, but only I get to enjoy that,” she said. “I’m the only person on the sled. The summer camp, speaking at high schools, that’s something I’m very passionate about. I’m looking forward to having more time to do things of that nature. I feel good about knowing that 2018 will be it. I’ll put all my eggs in the basket and do whatever I can. I feel good about training.”

Clukey said she still gets motivation from missing a spot on the 2014 Olympic team by 0.013 seconds.

“A year and a half later, I would say I’m almost over it,” Clukey said.

Clukey, the 2012 national champion, recorded her first victory of the season last month in Lillehammer, Norway. Clukey was set to leave for Park City, Utah, on Monday night for the national championships set for Nov. 8 at the 2002 Olympic course.

“Right now we’re in our team selection, so that’s really the first step to getting back on the World Cup team. I’ve had some good results and bad results, so I’m kind of in that middle zone,” Clukey said. “This next weekend is really important for me to put everything together. I feel really good. I feel really strong, really just physically fit. I’m not battling any injuries right now.”

The World Cup season begins in late November in Austria, Clukey said. After returning to North America for some races, the World Cup circuit heads back to Europe after Christmas for the remainder of the season. Clukey recently won her eighth U.S. National Start Championship, and said that aspect of her sledding is in fantastic shape.

“My starts are faster than they’ve ever been, which I was surprised by,” she said. “I know if I can put everything together, I feel confident I can prepare myself to get back to the level of success I want this year.”

Plans are underway for Clukey’s summer camp for girls in Readfield, which will be in its fifth year in 2016.

“I feel like part of my success is from growing up in the Augusta community,” Clukey said. “I have such great support. I look forward to giving back because I feel like I’ve been given so much.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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