Olympic Season Begins (9/27/13)

BY JULIA CLUKEY

 
With my nephew Lucas showing our USA pride

USA Luge Start Championships

Erin Hamlin, me, Kate Hansen after start championships

It’s official: the Olympic season has started. Ok — it really started back in April when I picked up my off-season training, but it is officially time to start sliding on ice. I’ve spent the past two weeks in Lake Placid, N.Y., transitioning my body and mind from my life at home to being a full-time athlete. Unlike the majority of my teammates, I choose to live and train in Maine in my off season. Having time at home to connect with my family and community is very important to me. And I enjoy the balance in life and luge I have built for myself.

I have had a great pre-season thus far. Late August I kicked off my year by heading to Meransen, Italy with teammate Chris Mazdzer to compete in the International Start Competition. I was eager to see where I stood amongst some of my international competition. I walked away from the competition with a win, however an unsatisfying personal performance. Fortunately I was able to come to Lake Placid for a few weeks in September and further work on my start technique to ensure that my power in the weight room was effectively transferring over to my start times. September 13 we had our first team event of the year with our USA Luge Start Championship. I also won this event, and was more pleased with my performance although not quite content with my start times. The start is crucial in our sport and I have always been one of the top competitors in the women’s field, and look to be so this year as well. Although much of my energy and focus will be on getting into a rhythm on my sled these next few weeks, my start technique will be in the back of my mind as we move towards our world cup season which kicks off mid-November. I am thankful I have a few more weeks to continue to tweak and perfect my form to ensure I am not giving any crucial time away.

The Olympic season is a big one and it adds a different level of energy and stress. Our team will have our team trials through the month of October. Because of my performance last year I have already been named to the world cup team through Christmas. Once the full world cup team is named (four women), our Olympic team selection process will kick into place. Our Olympic team is selected from the five world cups we have before our Christmas break and athletes are ranked according to tiers:

A Tier — top-5

B Tier — two top-9s

C Tier — one top-9, two top-12s

For me the most important thing to do is continue from where I left off last year — focus on my sliding and continue to fine tune my smoothness on the sled to carry the speed down the track. We have a very strong women’s program, so I certainly have my work cut out for me, but I am ready!!!