When Julia Clukey failed to qualify for a spot on the 2014 U.S. Olympic women’s luge team by a heart-wrenching 0.013 seconds, she refused to let that derail an impressive career and bounced back nicely.

The Augusta native is hoping for yet another rebound after a tough season on the sled.

Clukey failed to earn one of the four spots on the World Cup national team in November, just days after she announced she would make a run at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea before retiring from the sport.

“I’m not really where I wanted to be this year,” said Clukey, 30, a Vancouver Olympian in 2010.

The top four lugers after a pair of team seeding races in Lake Placid, New York, and Park City, Utah, earned spots on the World Cup roster.

Clukey, who won the preseason Lillehammer Cup on Oct. 10, finished fifth — losing out on the last spot by a mere 20 points to Raychel Germaine.

“In this sport you have good days and bad days,” Clukey said. “I had a bad team race in the fall. It was frustrating. If I were a hundredth of a second faster, I might have been in a better spot. The way the sport works motivates me. At this point in my career it’s easy to see the good in things. I am staying positive and using this for motivation.”

Clukey said she isn’t giving up on her goal of a berth on the 2018 U.S. Olympic team, but knows she’ll need strong performances moving forward to make it happen. She plans to spend the rest of winter training in Lake Placid and Park City.

“I’m not competing right now, just training domestically,” she said. “I’m making good use of my time. We have a strong team but my goal is still the 2018 Olympics. That’s where I want to be. I am using this time as an opportunity to get more runs. I’ve been in these situations before so I know how to handle them. I know I can persevere.

“I know I am on the right path. I am just going to go out and train hard. I will build off this. I will use this as motivation and come back stronger.”

Clukey will return to competition March 12-13, when the next round of Norton seeding races are scheduled in Lake Placid.

“It’s like an end-of-the-year ranking race,” Clukey said. “It will all start over again and I will be ready. I just have to find my rthym. I take a little longer than other racers, but defintely I’ll be ready to go from Day 1 when it all resets again. I want to be a contender at the World Cup level. I started a little too late this season and I won’t do that next season. I’ll be ready.

“Right now I am just going out and working hard, just trying to get better.”

Clukey will return home in March, when she plans to once again visit schools throughout the state as part of her “Julia Inspires” campaign.

Bill Stewart —621-5618

[email protected]

Twitter: @billstewartMTM

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