Julia Clukey’s quest for a berth on the U.S. women’s luge team in the 2018 Winter Olympics is still alive, but she knows the margin for error has shrunk considerably.

USA Luge has announced its national team for the 2016-17 season, with Clukey listed on the national “C” team. That means, according to a member of USA Luge, that Clukey is going to have to win her way onto the national “A” team that will compete on the World Cup tour.

And that’s fine with Clukey, the 31-year-old Augusta native and Cony High graduate who failed to make the national team last year.

“There’s one spot open for the World Cup and that’s what I’m going after,” she said Tuesday. “I like competition. This is a sport that is timed to a thousandth of a second and sometimes you come up a little short. I feel good. I feel motivated. I feel dedicated.

“I’m going to give it all I’ve got and we’ll see what happens.”

Her goal is to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Clukey finished 17th at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but missed the 2014 Sochi Olympics by 0.013 seconds in the final qualifying race. Last winter, she fell short of qualifying for the one of the four U.S. national team berths on the World Cup tour.

Those failures have only fueled her desire to return to the top of her sport. While she didn’t compete last winter, she said, “I felt I made really good use of my time.”

She tested her equipment. She worked out. She regained her focus. At the end of the season, she had impressive times as the fore-runner before World Cup events at both Lake Placid and Park City.

“I feel good about that,” she said. “I’ve had hiccups in the road before. It motivated me to get back to where I want to be. Having a strong team is what motivates me. If I can compete with my team, I can compete with anyone in the world.”

Clukey recently graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from DeVry University.

“That was another positive to last year,” she said.

Being listed on the “C” team did not surprise Clukey. Summer Britcher, Erin Hamlin and Emily Sweeney – born in Portland, raised in Falmouth, now living in Suffield, Connecticut – make up the “A” team and have already qualified for next winter’s World Cup circuit. Raychel Germaine is on the “B” team and is one of the athletes competing against Clukey for the final spot on the “A” team. She had a seventh-place World Cup finish last year.

The U.S. is allowed four spots on the World Cup circuit. Sandy Caligiore of USA Luge said Clukey can qualify for the final berth in the team’s fall racing series. “Points are awarded for each placing,” Caligiore said in an email. “The athlete with the most points gets the spot.”

For now, Clukey is at home in Augusta, training, preparing for her summer camp on Lake Maranacook and continuing her speaking engagements at schools throughout Maine. On Wednesday, she will be at the Lyman Moore Middle School in Portland. She said she will visit 20 schools statewide this spring.

“It’s very rewarding,” she said. “I just think kids are desperate for people to believe in them. I have a strong belief that we, as a community, have to play a role in young people’s lives.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.