READFIELD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- America's top female luger Julia Clukey is at home this summer. She is fit and ready to challenge for an Olympic medal. She would be the first American woman to ever win an Olympic medal in the sport of luge.
"I've learned a lot in my 16 year career through good times and bad times," Clukey told NEWS CENTER. Her latest down was a herniated disc which took her out of action in 2011. It combined with a congenital syndrome to severely weaken Clukey's right side. In fact, the injury made her stronger.
She battled through a year of rehabilitation before coming back for a sensational 2012-2013 season. She finished in the top ten eight times, won two World Cup silver medals and her first U. S. National Championship. She is determined to duplicate the effort next year.
"I feel really good coming into the season, I'm coming off a very strong year. I'm training hard," Clukey said from her summer camp on Lake Maranacook. The Julia Clukey Camp for Girls is hosting 98 girls between the ages of eight and eleven.
There have been 39 Olympic medals awarded in women's luge. 31 have gone to the Germans, six to the Italians and two to the Austrians. Clukey hopes to be the first American woman to crack that elite group.
America's top Olympic performer will get an extra chance to medal this year in Sochi. Officials are adding a new event known as the relay. The woman will make the first run. At the bottom of the track, she will sit up and hit a button. This will open the chute for the man at the top. After his run, he will open the chute for the doubles team. The U. S. has a World Cup silver in this event. They also have four fourth place finishes, all by less than five one-hundredths of a second.
The World Cup season begins in November. The Olympic team will be selected based on the results of the first five races. The selections process will be complete by Christmas.