Nina Hoffmann, 22, announced her arrival on the World Cup circuit with a top qualifying time and a second-place finish at Leogang. Andorra's ragged track then tried to get the best of the privateer from Germany, who fended off a few near misses and survived a crash near the bottom of the course, finishing without a left shoe in the top ten. Now she's in Les Gets, where PB photographer Ross Bell spoke with the highest ranked privateer on the World Cup about bike setup and what her future may hold.
Lives: Thuringia, Germany
Height/Weight: 170cm / 70kg ( 5' 7" / 154lbs)
Day Job: University, studying psychology
Likes: All sports, life in general
Nina gets help from Juliana, who set her up with the rebadged Santa Cruz V-10 chassis, which showcases the myriad of sponsors who support her efforts with both product and financial assistance. This weekend, Nina qualified further down in the field. Admittedly, she likes steep, technical courses, but don't count her out - her performance in Andorra indicates that she does not shy from a fight.
"I'm running 72psi in the fork and five volume spacers, I think. Less high-speed compression here, because of all the bumps, and a little more low-speed compression, with rebound in the middle. Rear shock? I am running a 475-pound spring and it is set slower, because that's how I like it - with the rear shock slower than the fork.
"Jordi changed it quite a lot in Andorra. He made it [rebound] faster, (but it is still slow) and made the compression firmer. I hate it when it bumps up at the end, so we have found a good middle ground with soft at the beginning and still not too hard at the end."
When asked if she makes many changes in her suspension setup for each course, however, Nina says no, and admits that she still has a lot to learn on that subject, so she's inclined to stick with what works best. That is also true about her cockpit.
"In Andorra, I moved the stem shorter because of the steep parts, but I was not sure, so in the end I rode it long. I'm not the person who is changing a lot."
When asked about the difficulties of racing as a privateer, Nina says that she has enjoyed a wide range of support from both her official sponsors, as well as a number of teams and team support people in the pits who are happy to lend a hand in a pinch. Today, she destroyed a chainring in practice and her only spare was geared too tall. Team Polygon came to the rescue with the correct one.
"At the moment, I get a lot of support from many people who just come around and ask if I need some stuff or if I have any questions. I have a friend with me who is helping as my mechanic for these two races, and that is so helpful. I also get a bit of financial support from some of my sponsors to help pay for the travel, so I can't complain about being a privateer at the moment (laughs).
Does she want a full team sponsorship? That was an easy question.
"Next year, I want to change to a team. At a race, I am focused on racing, I can focus on myself, but in between races, you have to organize a lot and do a lot of stuff that is sometimes quite annoying. Also, going to new venues, and not knowing anything.. It is hard to find your way around a lot of the time - simple things, like where to pick up your number. If I move to a team, that will be way easier because you have a manager who takes care of the organization."
The way things are going, we don't think Nina Hoffmann is going to have trouble landing on a team.