Lake Placid’s Martina Lussi is a Sochi ski jump volunteer
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Martina Lussi’s daughter, 19-year-old ski jumper Nina Lussi, had an outside chance of getting to the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Nina apparently didn’t know it at the time, but her mother was already going to be there. She had signed up more than a year ago to volunteer at the games.
“I didn’t tell her about it because I thought, ‘That will be an interesting surprise,'” Martina said. “I figured if she made it, hey great, I’m already here.”
While Nina didn’t end up making the Olympic team, her mom decided to go to Sochi anyway.
“It was a done deal at that point,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’m sorry you’re not going, but I’m still going to go.'”
The wife of Lake Placid Crowne Placid Resort and Golf Club owner-manager Art Lussi said she applied to volunteer after she heard organizers were looking for people who had experience working at ski jumps. Lussi’s three children – Danielle, Nina and Miles – are all ski jumpers, so she is no stranger to the sport and has volunteered at Lake Placid’s Olympic Jumping Complex in the past.
Over the past two weeks, Martina Lussi has worked with an international crew of volunteers at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center, the site of ski jumping and nordic combined events at the Sochi games.
“I got assigned to the hill decoration crew, which are the people that put all the lines up on the hill, like the little pine boughs,” she said. “Skiing skills were essential because it’s incredibly steep. We have one crew that is Russian that does the evening shift. And we do the day shift, the training and the nordic combined events.
“It’s absolutely amazing how much work goes into an event like this in a place where there really isn’t that much snow. To just keep the snow on the hills and the cross-country course (for nordic combined) has been really hard, but they try really hard.”
Lussi said the volunteers she’s worked with came from all over the world. There are a lot of Russians, of course, but also a big contingent of Canadians who were brought in because of their experience at the Vancouver Olympics four years ago.
“What’s really fun is a lot of the Russian volunteers are college students, so they’re like 18 to 24 (years old) and they’re so excited to show off their country,” Lussi said. “They all are very friendly, very eager, not what I expected of Russians. At a bus stop, if you don’t know where you’re going, they help you out. If they don’t speak English, they find a buddy that does.”
Lussi said she’s staying in a volunteer housing development that’s only 20 minutes by bus and gondola from the ski jumps. When she isn’t working, she said she’s been able to see several other events including the dress rehearsal for opening ceremonies, pairs figure skating and some alpine skiing.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” she said. “Every time I’m out (on the jumps), I’m thinking of our (state Olympic Regional Development Authority) crew and how great of a job they do for us all the time. It’s great to get a taste of it and how much work it is.”