France’s Léna Brocard is a young woman with clear opinions. In “Ladies in the Spotlight”, the 18-year-old talks about her love for trail running in the French mountains, her view on the IOC’s decision not to include Ladies’ Nordic Combined in the Beijing 2022 programme and where her inspiration for the sports of Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined comes from.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined?
Léna Brocard: It was in 2014, when Coline Matel won her medal at the Olympic Games in Sochi that I discovered ski jumping and the Olympic dream. I started pretty late, only at age 14 when my parents moved closer to the mountains. It is to Etienne Gouy, the former head coach of the French Nordic Combined team, that I owe my involvement in Nordic Combined.
You have started in the FIS Youth Cup in Nordic Combined and also in Alpencup in Ski Jumping in the past. What do you like about both different sports?
Brocard: Ski Jumping and Cross-Country Skiing are two completely contrary and at the same time complementary disciplines: one the one hand, you have that short moment of effort that gives you these amazing sensations and on the other side, you have a big exertion that clears your head completely. For me, this is really the beauty of it: the two sports offer the chances to improve yourself and go beyond your limits in two totally different ways.
Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined have allowed me to evolve and grow as a person. I went from being a city girl to a young woman who cannot do without sports and mountains! (laughs)
Have you set any concrete goals for the next season? Will we maybe seen you in the Continental Cup in Nordic Combined as well?
Brocard: I would like to represent my country as best as possible at the Junior World Championships this winter and if my level of performance allows it, I will face the best athletes in the Continental Cup. I did not set a limit for myself.
Ladies Nordic Combined was among the sports asking to be included in the Olympic programme, yet, the IOC decision was not positive for the Beijing 2022 programme. How do you see this situation?
Brocard: The Olympic Games, more than every other sports event, are filled with emotions and moments without comparison. For many athletes, they are the ultimate goal or the big childhood dream that they are chasing.
For some time now, the International Olympic Committee has advocated for gender equality in all disciplines and I think that Ladies’ Nordic Combined really deserved its place among the sports proposed for the inclusion in the Olympic programme. To show that women are present on the highest international level would have been great media exposure for Nordic Combined.
At a time when gender issues are topical, it seems important to me that all sports are represented with both women's and men's categories.
Which other athletes do inspire you most?
Brocard: I do not really have that only one athlete who is my role model but I really like the story of Marine Leuleu. This young Frenchwoman shares her joie de vivre and love of sports in a great way. In June, she broke the record for an enduroman, an ultra-triathlon that features 140 km of running, 33 km of swimming and 290 km of cycling from London to Paris.
It was a really beautiful lesson of courage and determination. Everything is possible when you believe in yourself.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Brocard: I really like to run trails in the mountains in my home region. It’s a powerful feeling of freedom that you get up there and I think it’s the best place in the world! (laughs)