On the occasion of the start of the luge season 2021/22, we met the luge talent Lisa Schulte for an interview. She talked to us not only about her athletic goals, but also about competitiveness within the team, what a typical training day looks like for her, and what hobbies she pursues in her free time.
Lisa, you celebrated your 2018/19 World Cup debut in Königssee/GER and made your first individual podium this year in the first race in Yanqin/CHN. How satisfied are you with the start of the season?
The start was of course awesome. The training went very well and I already thought that a top six was possible, but the fact that I finished third is really great. Especially since this was also the test for the Olympics and I know in any case that the track would suit me.
Once on the podium, then things didn’t go so well. What was the reason for that?
China is very special because the centrifugal forces are rather low. You need a lot of feeling and that suits me. After that, I had problems dealing with the greater forces again, as in Sotchi. And then there were simply individual mistakes that could have been avoided. I certainly would have had the speed, but I didn’t bring the runs down.
Where are the next competitions, what are the expectations and which track suits you?
In the new year I will go to Sigulda. The track there suits me well. Normally the field is more mixed there, because no one really trains much on the track. After that it’s off to Winterberg. The track suits me very well, two years ago I won bronze at the Junior World Championships. However, some things were rebuilt in the summer and we’ll see how that affects the feeling. After that, St. Moritz is still on the schedule. It’s a track all of its own and has a special flair. And then there’s the Olympics…
How do things look at the moment with the qualification?
Well, to fulfill the qualification guidelines, I still need two top eight results. But I think that in general it looks quite good. Especially because I already showed in China that the track suits me.
Your team-mate Madeleine Egle has already claimed two victories. What’s the mood in the team, do you benefit from that?
That definitely pulls you along and motivates you immensely. You also see that the material fits and you don’t have to worry about it. It’s rather difficult to compare Madeleine in training because she can really step it up a notch in the race. She’s not that extremely fast in training. But we always do the analyses together and you can take a lot away from that, because no one here wants to keep anything to themselves, as is the case with some other teams.
How did you actually get into luge?
I have always been interested in sports. When I moved from Germany to Austria with my family in 2010, some kids were already luge athletes in kindergarten. I went along in the summer. After I had a lot of fun with it, I went straight into summer training – and stayed with it.
What is the special fascination of this sport for you?
Definitely the adrenaline. But the team spirit also plays an important role, as does the traveling. Somehow it all adds up to a lifestyle of its own, and I really like that.
Can you describe a typical training day and a competition day?
A training day in winter depends a bit on when we have track times. In preparation, we usually have track training twice a day. We get up relatively early, go to the track and do 3-4 runs. After that, the runs are analyzed directly in the hotel. After lunch, athletics or strength training is usually scheduled, followed by another 3-4 runs on the track. There is again video analysis and, of course, you also have to work on your equipment. Massage or physiotherapy must also fit into schedule, so there is actually no free time until after dinner.
On a classic competition day, I start with mobilizations even before breakfast. Then it’s off to the track. There I complete a warm-up program lasting about an hour. These are mainly athletic exercises, but the last 15 minutes I go through the track again and focus on concentration. Depending on where you end up in the first run, there is then more or less time until run two. In any case, you eat between runs, then start warming up again. After the race there are meetings, physio and material tuning.
Do you have any special role models?
In luge, it is definitely Natalie Geisenberger. She was very successful already at a young age, but especially incredibly consistent over the years. But I also find it very inspiring how she has come back successfully now after her pregnancy.
What about team spirit in luge? Actually, the discipline is considered an individual sport, right?
Although we all fight for ourselves, we have a great spirit, especially in the Austrian team. For example, we work out the courses together, exchange ideas, give each other tips on the line and learn from each other. Even when it comes to the material, there are no secrets among each other.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you in the sport so far?
Last year in Igls at the Nations Cup, my feet were dragged right before the start and I flew over the toboggan and then slid around like a bug at the start. There are only about 40 seconds between the runners at the start, so I was just able to get up and start in time. Luckily it wasn’t live on TV because it was the Nations Cup and not the World Cup.
Are there things you always have to have with you?
Definitely my headphones, I have them with me everywhere. And my Blackroll Ball, I always have to have it handy, even on the plane, because I often have blockages.
What do you spend most of your time doing away from sports? Hobby, Netflix, etc.?
I like to be out in nature, but especially with horses. Horses have always played an important role in my life and I’ve been riding for a long time. It’s just fun to ride out with friends and be outside. In the summer, I also like to swim or play beach volleyball.
Is there something (trip or project) you’ve always wanted to do?
I would love to spend a few weeks on a real ranch in the USA. Work like a real cowgirl and spend a lot of time with the horses.
If you could learn one skill without having to practice, what would you want to be able to do?
I would just like to have really good coordination skills in general, because then I could do almost any sport right off the bat. That would be really cool.
What is your hidden talent?
Well, everything has to be in its place for me. So, I like to sort or rearrange so that everything is neat and tidy.
What do you think you need to get better at?
My consistency. If I get the runs down, then I’m certainly among the front runners. But you simply can’t afford to make mistakes. I just have to keep working on myself. In addition, I can certainly improve at the start. That’s not so easy during the season, but I also have to work on my athleticism.
What do you do to “wind down” when all the stress becomes too much for you?
Just spending time in nature when I’m at home. Then I’m out and about with our dogs a lot. When we are at competitions, I do a lot of yoga or meditate as well.
Do you have any rituals, something that always has to be the same?
Well, I don’t have anything like only getting out of bed with my left leg. But the procedure before the start is always the same for me: I have the racing suit half on, do my breathing exercises and walk the course. Then I slip into the suit and go to the start.
What are your sporting goals?
My big dream is, of course, to win Olympic gold. But of course, only a few athletes can achieve this dream. Nevertheless, I personally subordinate everything to this goal. This season it would be amazing to be at the Olympics. For doing so, I still have to be regularly in the top ten in the World Cup.
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