Julia Clukey has had fun at the Winter Olympics. But she’s ready to come home.

Clukey — the Augusta native and retired Olympic luger — has spent the past few weeks in PyeongChang, South Korea at the Winter Olympics. She’s working as both a statistician and a commentator for NBC.

“It’s been good, it’s been awesome,” Clukey said. “To be on this side of things and to still be a part of it is pretty special.”

Clukey made her Olympic debut in 2010 in Vancouver, Canada, when she finished 17th in the luge. In 2012 she became the U.S. national luge champion, but two years later, in 2014, she missed out on earning a berth on the U.S. Olympic team by 13 thousandths of a second.

Clukey will discuss her successful career, as well as her recent experience in South Korea, on Wednesday when she participates in Community Voices, a live event series presented by the Morning Sentinel and the Kennebec Journal. The event will feature a one-on-one interview with sports writer Travis Lazarczyk in front of a live audience.

Tickets for the event — scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building at Colby College in Waterville — can be found here.


Clukey is still tapped into the sport, as many friends and former teammates are still competing. Those relationships have helped in her role as a commentator.

“It was special to help tell their stories as the people I know and try to help relate them back to the American people,” said Clukey, who retired in 2016 because of health reasons — she suffers from Arnold-Chiari, a brain disorder involving structural defects that cause head and neck pain. “Who they are as athletes and what our sport is. Just being able to watch them succeed was awesome. These are athletes I trained with, spent more than half my life with. Those friendships are stronger, they’re still great friends of mine.”

Clukey added she is looking forward to the event Wednesday.

“Ideally, anytime you can share your vision and your mission and your passion for something, it’s exciting,” Clukey said. “I love Travis, he was so amazing to me throughout my entire career, his coverage of me through the good days and bad days. I think it will be a good conversation. Not just about myself as an athlete but myself as a person. I think, again, is another message that’s very important — especially for young people — that you’re not what you do. What you do matters, but who you are is more important.”


Clukey said she was approached about doing some commentating work for NBC last fall, but it came with a slight challenge. While she was on top of what was happening in her own sport as she’s only two years removed as a competitor.


However, she was also tasked with covering all sliding sports, including skeleton and bobsled.

“I had a little bit of time to prepare,” Clukey said. “I’ve been doing all the sliding sports — luge, skeleton and bobsled — so obviously, luge was easy for me. But the other sports, I didn’t have that in-depth knowledge, especially with the people involved, who the top sleds are. So that I was able to keep an eye on during the World Cup season and watch who was doing well and pick up on things that way, that was nice.”

Clukey said she has enjoyed life since retiring from the sport.

“When I left the sport, I really didn’t feel like the sport was who I was (as a person),” Clukey said. “We read about athletes struggling to transition (to life after retirement). Fortunately, I feel because of what I went through in my personal life, losing my sister, I had a sort of other experience that allowed me to get a bigger understanding of the bigger picture of life. And that allowed me to navigate better than you read about sometimes.”

When Clukey returns home, she will continue her “Julia Inspires” presentations, in which she will talk to children across the state about setting goals and overcoming adversity. She will also once again run the Julia Clukey Camp for Girls — designed to encourage young girls to make smart choices and live a healthy lifestyle — this summer in Readfield. The camp is entering its seventh year.



Clukey will be able to bring back plenty of empowering stories from this year’s Olympics, including the U.S. women’s hockey team, who defeated rival Canada in a shootout for the gold medal.

“The women’s hockey team could not be a better story,” Clukey said. “A year ago, they were boycotting for higher pay, which they rightly deserved, they worked their tails off, and they just wanted to be treated equal. It’s crazy that they even had to do that, that it wasn’t just a given. In my sport, I never faced that. Luge, there was always parity, whether it was prize money, whether it was travel conditions, whatever it was. That athletes are still having to fight for that is crazy to me. But I’m certainly proud of them for taking that battle on and them coming here and winning gold, it sort of puts the icing on the cake, it’s so awesome to see. It’s great for young girls to see powerful females go after what they want and going after them fiercely.”

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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