Click the play button above to listen to Julia Clukey and Jack Elder discuss their introductions to the sport of luge and how they excelled to become Olympians.

Julia Clukey and Jack Elder


Julia Clukey and Jack Elder each have an interesting story for how they were introduced to the sport of luge.

Elder, then serving in the U.S. Army, was visiting the enlisted men’s club in Berchtesgaden, Germany, when he saw a man at the bar wearing a Team USA warmup suit.

“Boy, how do you get one of those?” Elder wondered. He approached the man and learned that the man received the gear when competing at the Innsbruck 1964 Olympic Winter Games.

“I looked at him, he’s a tall, skinny guy – what did this guy do in the Olympic Games?” Elder asked himself, learning that the man raced sleds down a track. Soon, Elder was trying out the sport and he would compete at the Sapporo 1972 Olympic Winter Games.

Clukey, who is from Maine, saw an advertisement promoting a USA Luge visit and offering attendees a free t-shirt.

“When you’re 11 years old, you’ll do just about anything to get something free,” Clukey said. “So we went out for the afternoon, tried it and had a great time. A few months passed and I got invited to Lake Placid, New York, to try the sport in the wintertime. I’d had a lot of fun in the summer and the thought of missing school wasn’t a terrible idea being 11 years old.

“So I went to Lake Placid and took one run on the old Lake Placid track and was completely hooked. It was like nothing I had ever done before and knew I had found something that I had to keep doing.”

She went on to compete at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Listen to more of the lugers’ StoryCorps conversation, including insight into Clukey’s role as a senior director with U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.


A Native American from tiny Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Billy Mills surged down the stretch to win the 10,000-meter run at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history.
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