By Michael Mastarciyan
The world of alpine ski racing has seen its share of great nicknames over the years: The Herminator (Hermann Maier), The Kaiser (Franz Klammer), The Speed Queen (Renate Goetschl), The Blitz from Kitz (Toni Sailer) and perhaps the coolest ski racing nickname of all time La Bomba (Alberto Tomba).
The next great nickname (I hope this is my Serge Lang moment), and I’m going to throw it out there now, is La Macchina - and it goes to Italian racer Lisa Magdalena Agerer (who won’t have to change any monograms she has on luggage if the nickname sticks!).
Why “La Macchina” for a racer who hasn’t seen a full season yet on the World Cup?
Well, it’s certainly not due to any hidden baseball skills Ms. Agerer possesses (BTW - La Maquina is the nickname for one of Major League Baseball’s greatest current power hitters, Albert Pujols) as she has assured me that baseball is not one of her sports fortes.
I’m throwing La Macchina out there because winning eight Europa Cup ski races in a row (in three disciplines) - seven of which happened over a 14-day stretch last season between February 14th and 28th - is clearly the work of a machine, not a human.
With last season’s Overall, Downhill and Giant Slalom Europa Cup titles under her belt, the 20-year-old from San Valentino, Italy, is set to compete in her first full World Cup season this winter. La Macchina took a break from her busy summer training schedule for a quick chat recently, here are the highlights....
MM: First off Lisa, are you cool with the nickname La Macchina? What do you think it?
LA: Ahahaha...yes for sure it’s cool, and it’s an honour to think that someone is even thinking of giving me such a nickname. La Macchina definitely has a nice ring to it, but I know there's still a lot of work to do before people start calling me "La Macchina” on a regular basis.
MM: Do you have any other nicknames? What do your friends and family call you?
LA: Family and friends simply call me Lisa. Only my roommate Fede (Brignone), is allowed to call me Lis. My middle name Magdalena also offers some possibilities for other nicknames, like "Maddalena" in Italian, or maybe even "Madeleine" which some friends on the French team call me. Recently I got another one, and right now it’s my favourite – “Marmottina,” but I'd really like to see how far I'll get with "La Macchina,” (she says with a big smile).
MM: Okay, let’s talk skiing...you won 8 Europa Cup races in a row last season, and 7 of them came over a 14-day period - how hard or easy was that accomplishment?
LA: It was actually easier than most people would think. After the first victories in Sella Neves I knew I was really “in the zone” and I was skiing super confident and fast. I think this gave me some extra self-assurance and confidence which may have been missing in past races. I loved skiing in those Europa Cup races and got into a fantastic rhythm. I also really enjoyed my time with the B-team.
MM: How did you keep your energy up racing so many times in a span of two weeks?
LA: Good results reload you a lot. I also have to thank the staff on the A and B teams for their hard work. My teammates Sofi (Goggia) and Fede (Brignone) are also connected to my success. There’s such a positive vibe on this team, and when you have positive energy between teammates, it makes life much easier, and it can give you lots of extra power.
MM: Is it hard to stay focused when you are racing as much as you do, skiing in so many events?
LA: Focus wasn’t a problem at all for me last season. I love to ski, and I love to race, and every opportunity I have to do either, is an opportunity to have fun and to showcase my skills.
MM: Do you have any advice for other young multi-discipline racers who face busy schedules that you can share?
LA: Listen to your body. Last season I learned that listening to your body and doing what it tells you to do isn’t always easy. But you have to learn to say “no” sometimes. Trust yourself and don’t do things just because other people are doing them.
MM: Are you planning on a busy World Cup race schedule next season - will you compete in most disciplines?
LA: My main goal is to continue doing well in GS, especially at the beginning of the season when there are a lot of World Cup GS races. So my main focus will be GS, but I’d also like to race in all the other events too – speed and tech - if my body and preparation allow for it.
MM: You finished the Europa Cup season with 9 victories, one 2nd and one 3rd place, with 1029 points - 368 points more than your closest competitor - was this exciting for you?
LA: Yes it was very exciting. I didn’t start the season with the idea that I’d ski so well in so many Europa Cup races, but with some luck and some nice flukes, I ended up with 1029 EC points. Breaking the 1000-point mark was really satisfying, and the overall win was incredible too.
MM: Will the success you had last season give you a little extra confidence going into your first full season on the World Cup?
LA: Yes it does give me some extra confidence, and has some great benefits too (fixed spots in all the disciplines). But I know last season is now history, and the new one coming will require careful preparation, so I have to avoid being lazy and relying on last year’s success.
MM: You have victories and podiums in GS, Downhill, Super-G and Super Combined - do you have a favourite discipline?
LA: I love Giant Slalom. But I like also Super-G 'cause it's the most complete discipline - you have one run, no second try, and the need to blend speed and technique are super important.
MM: You’ve had 19 World Cup starts in your young career so far, and a World Cup career best 7th place finish in GS last March in Are, Sweden where you had the best time in the second run. Did you learn anything from this experience that you can use next season on the World Cup tour?
LA: I definitely learned a lot last year in World Cup - racing there is so different than racing in Europa Cup. I've learned to focus on what I'm able to do, not more, not less. You don't have to change just 'cause you're racing in
World Cup. I also started to learn to trust myself and believe in my skills.
MM: What’s the most important thing you learned in your ski racing career so far?
LA: Good question. There are a lot of great experiences in the life of a ski racer, but also some that are not so great, but even these are often useful lessons. The most important lesson for me so far has been understanding my body and my mind, and how they work together when you know how to “treat” them properly.
MM: What’s the best advice you’ve been given so far in your racing career and who gave it to you?
LA: I just know it in German, but I’ll try to translate: "If you think of being someone, you just stopped becoming someone". A good friend of mine gave it to me years ago.
MM: Did you have any ski racing idols growing up?
LA: I clearly remember the years when Janica Kostelic and Anja Paerson were winning nearly everything, I grew up watching them racing and winning.
MM: Okay, time for some more personal stuff...your Dad is Austrian and your Mom is Italian, who is the better cook and do you prefer traditional Tyrolean Austrian cuisine over Italian cuisine?
LA: Oh, for sure my Mum (she says with a smile). I love Italian cuisine, but my favourite plate is a traditional Austrian dish she makes - grießschmarren – and I can’t live without it!
MM: You’re on a island in the middle of nowhere, and can only ever have one dessert for the rest of your life, will it be Kaiserschmarren or Tiramisu?
LA: No doubt, Kaiserschmarren!!!
MM: Have you taken any time off this off-season? Go anywhere near a beach?
LA: I’m always up for some time off because I always really need it! In May I went to Greece for some kite surfing but unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of wind, so there wasn’t a lot of kite surfing! After our training session in Argentina I’m planning on some time off at a mountain chalet with Sofi (Goggia) – something like in the movie “Into the Wild” hahaha!!!
MM: How is training coming along for next season?
LA: Up to now, well. We’ve had some great training sessions with the team and I’ve done a ton of cycling and now that’s sort of become a passion. The Ushuaia, Argentina trip is our first on-snow training of the summer and then we’ll be in Chile in September for some Super-G and Downhill training. After that we’ll spend some time on the glaciers in Europe, and then it’s time for Sölden, and I can’t wait!