Nina Lussi heads back to World Cup circuit

LAKE PLACID – Last weekend, Lake Placid native Nina Lussi took first place in consecutive competitions on her home hill at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex.

Friday night, she won the women’s division in the New Year’s Master Ski Jump event. The following day, she won the NYSEF ski jumping event.

But the competition will be significantly tougher in the coming weeks for the 18-year-old as she heads back to Europe, where she has been living and competing for the past three years.

Lussi has been in Austria attending Skigymnasium Stams Academy, a high school that focuses on developing world class athletes. She is also a member of the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team, and has been consistently competing on the World Cup circuit this year.

Lussi, who is from Lake Placid, moved to Austria with the goal of competing in the World Cup and Olympics in ski jumping.

“They have a really great training program,” Lussi said. “And it’s nice because in Europe there are a lot more ski jumps closer together, so you get a lot more experience than over here, where we have great venues but they are a little bit more spread out.”

Lussi got her first taste of World Cup action last February when she took 44th in Hinzenbach, Austria. The jump not only marked a big step in Lussi’s career but it came during a period in which women have made tremendous strides in ski jumping. Last winter was the inaugural year for women’s ski jumping on the International Ski Federation World Cup circuit. Next winter in Sochi, Russia will be the first time women’s ski jumping will be an Olympic sport.

The news that women’s ski jumping would be in the Olympics first came out in April 2011.

“I could hardly sit through a whole day of school because I was so anxious to hear the outcome of the meeting,” Lussi said at the time “When finally the great news came through, I didn’t react the way I thought I would. I didn’t jump around scream or throw my arms in the air. Instead, simply a smile crept into my face. This is something that we have all been dreaming about for so long that it does not even seem real yet.”

It’s definitely real now, and Lussi is in the mix for a spot. She just needs to keep improving.

Like last year, Lussi has found herself toward the bottom of the pack on the very competitive World Cup circuit. She placed 45th on Dec. 14 in Ramsau, Austria and 44th on Nov. 24 in Lillehammer, Norway.

Still Lussi is happy with her results so far. Although being in the top 50 doesn’t sound like success, it’s a big step for athletes joining the World Cup. On the men’s side, 2010 Olympian Peter Frenette is fighting the same battle, just trying to make the top 50 himself. In fact, Frenette hadn’t even competed in the World Cup when he made the Olympic squad in 2010.

Lussi said she has been happy with the results so far but is hoping to improve in this new year. She believes that her mental outlook will play a big role in her moving up in the standings.

“It’s a much bigger deal, and I’m still not very experienced and I have a little bit of trouble dealing with the pressure,” Lussi said. “My results weren’t as good as I know they could have been, but in training I have shown that I’m capable of much more. So it’s all about making those good jumps at the right time.”

This weekend, Lussi will be competing with her team in World Cup events in Schonach, Germany, followed by a World Cup a week later in Hinterzarten, Germany.