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Huge Moment At The Right Time (2/15/13)

 
Team USA after claiming the silver medal in the team relay
 
Me and my nephew Lucas, wearing my silver medal
 
Team Julia Clukey

2013 has been a great year for me thus far. The beginning part of our World Cup season I was lacking the consistency I had hoped for in competition this year. After spending a week at home at Christmas time, I came back to the World Cup tour refreshed and ready to attack my races. We started off the first part in Germany, with three back-to-back-to-back races there. In our sport we spend half of our season competing in Germany, which can be frustrating in the sense that they are such tough competition already, let alone on their home tracks.  I finished the three-week tour with a fifth place, two sixth places, and a seventh place finish. Three of those four were personal bests on the tracks.  This was the consistency I was looking for, and wrapping up the German swing I was eager more than ever to get back to North America and race on more neutral tracks.

Our first stop was Whistler, Canada, for our World Championships. This was my first time coming back to Vancouver since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. So much has changed for me both personally and athletically since the 2010 Games. The first few days were a whirlwind of emotions but I was happy to be back on the track and looking for some athletic redemption to my Olympic performance. I had really great training for most of the week we were there, then I suffered from a stomach bug leading up to the competition which had a definite effect on my strength and start time, and I dropped five-hundredths of a second off my start time from when I was healthy, too the competition day. In the sport of luge, five hundredths is a significant amount of time especially on the start split. I ended up finishing the week with a ninth-place finish at World Championships.  It was a really close race and I knew going into it that everything would have to be perfect to be one of the top sleds. Overall it was a disappointing and frustrating race for me, but with the season I have had I still feel optimistic that I can be a contender at the Games next winter.

Following Whistler we headed to Lake Placid, N.Y., for the eighth World Cup of our season. With my disappointment following World Championships I was more fired up than ever to have a great race in Lake Placid. I wanted to make sure I was capitalizing on my home track advantage. I finished a career-best second place, and finished on the podium for the first time in my career. It is still hard for me to put into words how special this is to me. I have worked so hard this year to get myself back to being not only the top U.S. athlete, but to be a contender on the World Cup level. Making it even more special was having a group of friends and family there to share the day with. I followed up the next day winning a silver medal with my teammates in the team competition. This is a huge moment for me, and couldn’t come at a better time. We are packing up and heading to Sochi, Russia, this weekend for the final World Cup event of our season. It took me a while to get a hang of the track when we were training there in the fall, but I did end the training on a high note winning our internal team race. I am excited to get some more runs on the track and start trying to find the speed necessary to be the best.