In an exclusive interview with Fondo Italia, Lisa Hirner expressed her disappointment at being excluded from the Olympic Winter Games in Milano Cortina 2026, stating, "The exclusion from Milano Cortina 2026 was a big disappointment. But we are giving our best to demonstrate the strength of us women!"
On the day of the IOC decision, the Austrian described the anxiety and hope of the athletes, saying, "On the day of the decision by the IOC, all the World Cup athletes but also all the young girls who hoped that one day their childhood dream to become an Olympian could be fulfilled. We were in fibrillation and particularly nervous waiting for that decision that could change the future."
The 2020 Youth Olympic Champion expressed her determination despite the IOC's decision, saying, "I watched that decision live on my phone and I really thought that we could make it and being included in next Olympic program. My first reaction was true disappointment and some anger. I still don’t understand their decision but after a short period, I decided together with my colleagues to fight even harder to show what we, as women, can do in Nordic Combined."
“Gyda has nerves of steel”
Lisa Hirner (AUT)
Speaking about Overall World Cup winner Gyda Westvold Hansen, Hirner praised the unbeatable Norwegian by saying, "I think Gyda has nerves of steel. She is incredibly good from competition to competition getting stronger race after race. I am excited to see if someone of us can beat her next winter."
Another thing the Mixed Team vice world champion is looking forward to, is the work with the new Austrian coaching staff.
"Our team still needs a bit more time to adjust to the new program but in general the preparation has been good. Unfortunately, I injured my knee last spring falling with my mountain bike and Annalena Slamik and I are still with the army, but we’ll be well prepared for the upcoming season."
The 19-year-old also shared her interests beyond competition, saying, "In my free time, I love hiking in the mountains and conquering their summits. I also have a passion for climbing. During the summer, I enjoy hitting the waves for some surfing and sailing with friends and family."
Reflecting on her start in Nordic Combined, Hirner revealed, "In the beginning, I wanted to focus solely on Ski Jumping because my father and uncle were former ski jumpers. However, in our training groups in Eisenerz, there were mainly boys engaged in Nordic Combined. So, my coach suggested I try cross-country skiing or just observe the other boys during training. I eventually took up cross-country skiing, initially for fun, but later I began competing in both Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping."
When speaking about her involvement in her ski club, the Austrian commended her mother's dedication, stating, "My mother is truly amazing for the fantastic work she does as a volunteer at our SC Erzbergland ski club. Our club in Eisenerz is one of Austria's largest, and we are all deeply committed to organizing events in our region and successfully recruiting young talents."
Offering suggestions to enhance the popularity of Nordic Combined among women, Hirner proposed, "Nordic Combined is not as popular as other sports right now. We lack major sponsors, but the introduction of new formats like the Individual Compact and the 7.5km Gundersen could make a significant difference."
“Next season will be unique”
Lisa Hirner (AUT)
Discussing the upcoming World Cup calendar for women, Lisa expressed her excitement, saying, "It's fantastic that we now have sixteen individual competitions in our third World Cup edition. The increased number of competitions and expanding locations each winter are crucial for the development of our sport."
Finally, regarding her plans for the next season, Lisa admitted, "Next season will be a unique one for me without World Championships or World Juniors on my schedule. It's a transitional phase due to my knee injury, changes in coaching, completing my service in the Austrian army, and moving away from home. I'll take some time to adjust to these changes, so I'm not sure what to expect from the upcoming winter season. However, I am committed to giving my best in the World Cup throughout the season."
Source: Paolo Romanò / Fondo Italia
Find the full interview HERE.