Q&A with Lisa Hoernblad
Lisa Hoernblad of Sweden made her debut on the World Cup tour last winter and scored several impressive first-season results. In an effort to get to know her better, we asked some key questions in the offseason as she prepares for the 2018/19 winter on the White Circus.
Where are you from?
I am from a city called Örnsköldsvik in the North of Sweden. Alpine skiing is not so popular there, and our slope is really short. So as a child, I traveled for four or five hours every weekend to train on bigger slopes in Sweden. I have been a sporty person for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I did a lot of sports. I played football and ice hockey, and I practiced ski jumping and alpine skiing. I loved to compete and wanted to compete in everything all day long.
How did you start skiing?
My best friend was skiing, and I thought it looked fun. So one day I followed her to the slope, and then I was stuck with it. I really liked it and continued to ski. I think I was around seven years old. My parents never skied, so when I started competing they supported me with everything they could but did not know anything about the ski world. I really got to experience and learn about ski racing by myself. And that is one thing that I think has made me come this far. I did everything because I wanted it and not because of anybody else. It was my choice.
What do you like the most about this sport?
There is a lot to like about this sport, but my favorite is the race torque. The nervousness mixed with the will to win. The preparation before. The expectations. All the emotions that you need to handle at the start and after finish. It’s one big rollercoaster.
What were the milestones in your career before you became a professional ski racer?
The step into the World Cup felt pretty natural for me. I didn’t know how good I could be on the World Cup, but in some way I felt ready. I have been watching World Cup races on TV my whole life, so it was so much fun and a bit unreal to finally stand at the start.
How was your rookie season on the World Cup, where you finished five out of your nine races in the top 30?
I am pretty satisfied with my season. It was my first year on the World Cup, and my main focus was to experience and learn. But of course, I wanted to ski well. There were so many new things for me: new slopes, new things to do outside of the race, rules, media, TV and so on. I mean, everything is a bit different except the racing from the start to the finish on the World Cup.
Were you satisfied with the experience and these results?
Considering my situation, I did a pretty good first year on the speed tour. I have learned a lot, and I feel super excited and ready to do better next season and take another step.
Do you find it motivating or frustrating to race with the best in the world?
To race against the best in the world is really motivating. Now I know where I am in comparison to the best, and thereby I see what I need to improve to reach the top. It is really inspiring to see the fastest athletes ski.
You also managed to improve your ranking on the European Cup, finishing third in the downhill and Overall standings and winning the super-g and alpine combined titles. Was it difficult to race on both tours?
It was actually a bit hard to race both the World Cup and the Europa Cup. I just went from race to race and never had time for training in between. But I decided to see it as a challenge. I tried to just take day by day and do my best all the time. It was physically tough but also mentally hard, because I needed to focus on two different Cups all season. But in the end it worked out good, and I learned a lot.
Thanks to your European Cup results, you earned a personal qualification spot for the World Cup. What’s your plan for next season?
My plan for next season is to focus on the World Cup and maybe do some Europa Cup races if there is time. It feels good to focus on one Cup next season.
You are the most successful Swedish European Cup athlete. That comes with expectations for the future. How do you handle these?
I like that people have expectations on me. I see that as a positive aspect.
As the only Swedish female World Cup skier on the speed side and one of only two on the European Cup, do you miss having a full team around you?
Yes, I miss having a team around me like I had before. But now I am used to it, and it works well. Almost everything has positive and negative parts. You just have to make the most of it and focus on the positive things.
What are the advantages of training in a smaller structure?
The advantage of training in a small structure is that you have full attention from coaches and service. You can be much more flexible with training times and location in a small group. It is an advantage that I often can train what I want and what I need: different disciplines, exercises, and other stuff on the slope. It is more effective in a small group, and also you don’t need to waste time on waiting for other people. The planning is also easier with less people.
Do you train regularly with any other teams?
[Last] season we collaborated with Germany and Hungary on speed races and training. And of course, I am training with other teams from Sweden whenever it is possible.
The 2019 World Championships take place next season in your home country, a unique experience in an athlete’s career. With seven National Championship titles and a fourth place finish at the Junior World Championships in Åre to your name, how well do you know the course?
I love Åre, and it would be amazing to race the World Ski Championships next year. I know the men’s course very well, because that is where we always train and race. I have never skied the ladies’ speed course.
Is the support from a home crowd a bonus or does it create more pressure for you to handle?
The support from a home crowd is just positive for me. I get so much energy by having friends and family around me at the races. Small things like hearing my own language around the slopes make me very happy.
Do you see yourself as a potential podium contender?
It feels like it is a little bit early for me to reach a podium. I need more experience and training. But I will work hard this year, and we will see what happens. Things can go faster then you think sometimes.