Julia Clukey misses U.S. Olympic Luge Team
The best U.S. women’s luger from the last World Cup season will not go to the Olympics.
Julia Clukey, who ranked sixth in the 2012-13 World Cup standings, was beaten out for the final U.S. Olympic Team spot by 19-year-old U.S. junior champion Summer Britcher on Friday night, USA Luge confirmed.
U.S. Olympic qualification for luge is done via a tier system with three women making the team for Sochi.
Tier one is a top-five result on the World Cup tour this season. Erin Hamlin achieved that last week and booked her third Olympic berth. Kate Hansen also earned that Friday night in Park City, Utah, by finishing fourth.
Tier two is two top-nine results on the World Cup tour this season. Nobody other than Hamlin or Hansen had achieved that going into Park City’s race Friday night. Britcher had one eighth-place finish in Igls, Austria, three weeks ago. Clukey had zero top-nine finishes.
Embedded owg_slideshow: The U.S. women's luge team Sochi hopefuls
Britcher was in fourth place after the first of two runs Friday. Clukey was in eighth. If the standings held after the second and final run, Britcher would make the Olympic team over Clukey.
They didn’t hold, but Britcher still barely hung on. Britcher finished ninth for her second top-nine finish to achieve tier two status. Clukey finished sixth. If she had finished fifth, she would have earned tier one status and leaped past Britcher for an Olympic spot.
Hansen and Britcher both made their first Olympic teams.
The two U.S. Olympic doubles teams were also determined Friday. Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall and Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman will go to Sochi.
Mortensen and Griffall earned a spot based on World Cup results. Griffall and Niccum got in by winning a raceoff, The Associated Press confirmed.
Mortensen and Griffall have led U.S. doubles on the World Cup tour the last two seasons, ranking 10th last year and 10th this season going into Park City. They were ninth in Friday’s race.
It will be the first Olympic appearance for Mortensen, 28, and the second for Griffall, 29. Griffall took eighth in 2006 with Dan Joye.
Niccum and Terdiman were the top U.S. doubles team in 2011-12, ranking seventh on the World Cup circuit. They missed nearly all of last season after Niccum tore an Achilles tendon.
Niccum, 35, is going to his third Olympics. He placed 23rd in singles in 2006 and sixth with Joye in doubles in 2010. Terdiman is going to his first Olympics. Terdiman, 24, is an Olympic rookie.
The men’s team will include Chris Mazdzer. The other two U.S. spots will be determined after race results Saturday.
Park City World Cup
1. Natalie Geisenberger (GER) 1:27.628
2. Anke Wischnewski (GER) 1:27.821
3. Alex Gough (CAN) 1:27.889
4. Kate Hansen (USA) 1:27.929
6. Julia Clukey (USA) 1:28.003
8. Erin Hamlin (USA) 1:28.014
9. Summer Britcher (USA) 1:28.023
1. Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt (GER) 1:27.326
2. Andreas Lingerer/Wolfgang Lingerer (AUT) 1:27.488
3. Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken (GER) 1:27.547
9. Matt Mortensen/Preston Griffall (USA) 1:28.080
11. Christian Niccum/Jayson Terdiman (USA) 1:28.153