Nina Lussi represented the United States in the Summer Grand Prix event in Frenstat, Czech Republic just over a week ago. She was the first USA Nordic athlete to compete internationally and possibly the first American skier to do so. We sat down for a chat with Nina on her experience. Enjoy!
The competition was held in Frenstat, Czech Republic. What kind of travel protocols were in place? Did you quarantine before heading to the competition?
Before we even embarked on the journey, we had to detail exactly where we had been and where we were based. Since I had been in Europe for about six weeks at that point, I had already quarantined, and then joined the “bubble” of the French team, who I am now training with. At the competition, we had fenced in team areas, where we could warm up without masks, but otherwise, masks were always on hand to keep ourselves and those around us safe. I know Renata (from FIS) enjoyed the double layer with a face shield, and mask for the measurements at the top. It did get a little hot, climbing the tower in the summer heat, but we made it!
What mode of transportation did you use to arrive in Frenstat?
We actually opted to fly from Geneva, since Courchevel is quite far away. The airlines have instituted their own safety measures and hand sanitizer was available everywhere. We were picked up at the airport by a van provided by the organizing committee in Frenstat, and were then still in our team bubble.
As far as accommodations go, were all the teams staying in the same hotel? Or were teams separated?
I believe we were in two hotels, and at meal times we wore masks into the restaurant, and then were seated with our teams.
At the ski jumping venue, what types of protocols were different than a normal FIS competition? Masks, chairlifts, warming huts, etc.?
There is a single chair so that made distancing much easier. We were greeted at the bottom with face masks, and wore them up until crotch measurements at the top and generally kept to ourselves.
Were there any spectators at the event?
Spectators were not allowed, so that was no concern.
Were there any television crews covering the event?
There were a few photographers, operating under all of the rules, but no television. An announcer kept us entertained, with great intro music for each athlete.
Did you find yourself interacting with other athletes on a more limited basis? Did you still get to have conversations with old friends and competitors?
Of course we still talked to each other, but there was no hugging. Pauline Hessler and I did fist bump as she replaced me in the leader’s box after the second round.
How safe did you feel during this event in Frenstat? Based on this answer, how confident are you that competitions will be safely held during the winter?
I am not very worried about the safety for the winter. I think the precautions will become ingrained and this will just be the way we compete from now on. With regular testing required, hopefully we can keep everyone safe.
Okay now to your actual performance. What was it like putting a bib on and competing after such a long break?
I was barely a month into jump training, with a new coach, so we had been reworking my technique up until now. I have pieces that improved, but the whole package isn’t there yet. Anyway, as an athlete I love the routine and the nerves that come with competing, and it was an important check in for me.
Did you notice that the field was a little rusty or did your competitors seem just as strong as usual?
I think, as anyone who has been injured before, that sometimes time off the hill lets you work out smaller things you needed to improve, so I cannot say I thought the level was low at all. Of course the field was not as deep as it is in the winter, but the top jumpers were looking good!
What were your personal takeaways from Frenstat? Are you satisfied with your jumps?
Like I said, I am still “under construction”, and am working on competition tactics. This was a good way of showing me where I need to improve. I have learned to look at the pieces of the jump that were good and acknowledge that, which can sometimes be challenging when it just doesn’t feel quite right.
Looking towards the winter season, what kind of improvements do you aim to make and where will your focus reside between now and then?
I am working on finishing the development of my jumping! Currently on the end of take off, then into the flight phase. I have been lucky to spend time switching hills and expanding my knowledge base. Two of the athletes I’ve been training with finished in the top five, so I know their level is a great benchmark for training purposes. So basically, keep calm and trust the process!