|LEAVE IT TO THE FRENCH. Nina, shown coming over the knoll on Lake Placid’s K90, shares a story about her first jump on a large hill… and a chance encounter with the debonair Frenchman who made it possible.|
Lake Placid Ski Club
Lake Placid, NY
Ski jumping stories. We are all full of them. Each one more wild than the next, but I am not sure if all are entirely appropriate for our audience here at USASJ. If you ever do get the chance to spend an evening with a group of former or current jumpers, you simply need to give a little prod and the snowball effect will take place before your eyes (or ears).
My story is actually one I had forgotten about until just today! As I was making my way to the chairlift in Planica, Slovenia I caught a glimpse of one of the French coaches and I had to giggle to myself. Although he doesn’t have any idea who I am, I will never forget the time he helped me out in Steamboat many years ago.
Back in the days of Nordic Combined World Cup B (now Continental Cup), our early snow out west would always overlap with the opening event in Steamboat Springs, CO. This trip in particular was actually my first time across the country with the Eastern boys (some of which I just jumped alongside of in the World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway) and it was all still slightly foreign to me. A fairly large group of us were getting our first winter jumps under our belts and things were going smoothly.
I must have been 12 at the time and the entire week of training I couldn’t help but to look to the right of the 90 meter, up at the looming “big hill”. On our last day of the early snow camp, I was having some of my best jumps of my life and knew that it was now or never. I timidly radioed up to my coach asking if there was any chance of jumping the Big. For a few long seconds, I didn’t hear anything and I was kicking myself for crossing that invisible line between athlete and coach. But then, at long last, I heard Matt Cook’s voice crackle the words, letting me know I was free to take one last jump on the K114.
I raced over to the Poma lift and couldn’t suppress my grin. Upon arrival at the top, I was all alone, and figured I would take the highest bar set and put my skis on as I watched ice chunks clunk their way down the inrun. Then I moved forward to try to get on the bar and realized there was no way I was going to be able to jump up on to it – it was way too high!
This is where the Frenchman comes in. He was apparently taking one last jump as well and had just arrived at the top to see me struggling to attempt getting on the bar. Calmly, he set his skis down and stepped up to my gate. He pointed at me and in broken English said “you, need help?” I nodded enthusiastically. With that, he simply grabbed me, skis on and everything, and plopped me down on the bar. “uhhh,… merci” I stammered. And the rest is history. I took a jump, set a new personal record and returned home to Lake Placid with a smile on my face.
To see Nina’s FIS bio, click here
|HARBINGER of the FUTURE. The podium from 2007 Flaming Leaves with Tara Gereghty Moats, Sarah Hendrickson, and Nina Lussi|