Julia Clukey Makes a Whirlwind Visit Home….Gets Ready for World Cup Season Part 2 Then the Olympics!
Augusta native Julia Clukey has a full plate. For starters, she's on the world stage competing in an adrenaline-fueled sport. When she's on her luge sled, she has a single focus...winning the race. When she is home, it's family, friends and helping kids succeed in whatever they put their minds to.
By all accounts, Julia is the complete package. She is a great athlete who represents her home state and her country very well and she is one of those rare, down-to-earth role models who can go from competing with the best in the world to talking to a young person about what it takes to succeed while letting them sit on her racing sled. While people close to Julia may take this for granted, be sure, the kids are paying attention. Julia has earned respect and she could easily use her celebrity to sell photos and autographs (I mean, how many times in your life will you get face time with an Olympian?) but she chooses to be the same person she's always been. True to her friends, to her fans and to herself. She's still an Augusta girl who expects to be treated no differently. THAT attribute alone commands respect in my book.
That said, Julia is having a great season...mostly because she feels good. Lots of people don't know this, but Julia has spent most of the last few years in tremendous pain, including during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. According to a recent USA Today article, she was suffering from Arnold Chiari Syndrome, a congenital condition in which the cerebellum pushes down into the spinal cord. She had numbness in her right hand, her shoulders felt heavy, she was plagued by fatigue and had tremendous headaches. Who knew? She never complained. After successful surgery nearly two years ago, she's feeling great and is having her best season yet.
Back in October, she ended Erin Hamlin's five-year reign as U.S. women's champ, finishing .088 seconds ahead of Hamlin, the 2009 world champion. She's also recently had three sixth-place finishes and one seventh place.
When I talked with her on the phone this afternoon, she sounded happy and ready to compete. Just back from Germany and Canada, Julia spent a day home and is headed back to Lake Placid today to get ready for this weekend's World Cup competition there before heading to Russia. She plans to be back home for an extended stay in March to spend some time talking with kids and enjoying family and friends. Then, in October, it's time for the Olympic trials. Can you believe the Winter Olympics are coming up again next year?
As I was talking with Julia I heard a beep in my phone. I looked at the caller ID and said to Julia, "it's your mom...I ought to take this." Cheryl, Julia's proud mom, added, "it's amazing what you can do when you're healthy."
Good luck Julia. We'll be here in Maine cheering you on!!