● By Grant Johnson
Photo courtesy Nita Englund
Steamboat Springs, CO - Nita hopes to be among the first-ever female ski jumpers in
Olympic history. In 2013 she has already had four top-10 finishes at
Continental Cups and the Large Hill Nationals.
Q. As a young girl, what drew you to ski jumping?
A. I grew up on a small, Midwestern ski slope. Compared to the mountains, they get boring pretty fast. I always had bundles of energy, and my “danger radar” was rather broken. Ski jumping provided a thrill that I could not get on the ski slopes.
Q. How do you like to celebrate a victory?
A. A long jump is rewarding all by itself, and I am not the celebratory type…a good competition motivates me to keep working at jumping farther.
Q. If you were to get a tattoo, what would it be?
A. Funny that you ask. I have plans to get DaVinci’s flying machine as a tattoo on my shoulder in a few weeks.
Q. Describe your perfect day.
A. Because I have not had any free time in a long time, I think my ideal day right now would be one where I could sleep in, take a few ski jumps in the morning, and then spend the rest of the day slacklining or hanging out with friends and family.
Q. What was your initial reaction to hearing that women will
finally be competing in Olympic ski jumping?
A. I was thrilled – but mostly for the girls that have been fighting for inclusion for years. I can’t say I was a huge part of that battle, because I was still very young when much of the political drama surrounding women’s ski jumping was happening. I am fortunate for the older girls on my team that fought for the sport, and I am glad that we can finally focus on ski jumping instead of politics.
Q. What does a typical day of training look like for you?
A. On the days that I am jumping, I will jump in the morning for a few hours and then have dryland training in the afternoons. In the time between jumping and dryland training, I am usually working at Ciao Gelato or doing schoolwork. Right now, I am jumping three to four days a week and dryland training five days a week. Ski jumping is all about balance, quad and core strength, and power. My training is a combination of weightlifting, plyometrics and interval training. I’m only in the weight room for one to two hours each time – but the workouts are always high intensity and I’m always exhausted by the end of the day.
Q. What’s your favorite thing about your sport?
A. Flying far when I have a good jump…it’s an indescribable feeling.
Q. If you weren’t a professional athlete, what would you
want to be?
A. Well, I will never call ski jumping my job…that makes it sound so boring! At this point, there isn’t anything else I would want to be doing. I am currently studying graphic design, and a career in graphic design or fine art is my future plan.
Q. What book are you reading right now?
A. “Everything is Illuminated,” along with textbooks for school.
Q. What is speed dial No. 1 on your phone?
A. My twin sister, Anna. I can hardly manage through a day without hearing from her.
Q. Favorite memory made in Steamboat?
A. There are too many too count. Steamboat is such a fun town to live in, and the people are always down-to-earth and friendly. I couldn’t imagine a better place to live.
Q. Whose autograph do you want to get in Sochi?
A. I would probably be the dork asking for autographs from my teammates. The girls that are on the U.S. team today were my idols growing up, and I’m glad that I’ve known their potential long before there was any world stage for them to compete on.
Q. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
A. I always wanted to jump through a tree canopy, like in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
Q. What’s on your warm-up playlist?
A. It’s quite the combination. Right now I am really liking Janelle Monae, Avicii and Trevor Hall.