Nina HoffmannThree races, two podiums, Nina Hoffmann has taken the downhill world by storm in 2019 as she has come from seemingly nowhere to become one of the fastest women on the circuit. Nina has only been racing downhill for four years and competing in World Cups for just over a season but she has already shown she has the pace to mix it up week in, week out.
The last two races have been especially good for Nina as she picked up a third in Fort William, the first elite podium for a German this millennium, and went one better with second in Leogang the week after. We caught up with Nina to talk about how she got started in downhill, her breakout year and her hopes for the future.
Where are you from and where do you live?
I’m from Saalfeld, a city in Thuringia, which is the state right in the middle of Germany. At the moment I live in Jena whilst studying.
How did you get into mountain biking?
It was in 2014 when I first met my ex-boyfriend. He is a passionate mountain biker and one year later he brought me into this awesome sport. At the time I was a javelin thrower, but not as successful as I wanted to be. So I wanted to try something new and I took part in my first downhill race. I won the open women category by a big margin – the decision had been made, downhill racing instead of javelin throwing!
Who do you ride for?
My main sponsors are: Juliana Bicycles, O’Neal, Levelnine Components, Schwalbe tires, E13, Trickstuff and easy-frame bike protection. Thanks for your support guys!
What bikes are you riding right now?
I’m riding my custom Juliana V10 for racing and a Juliana Roubion as a trail bike. For endurance training, I use my Santa Cruz Stigmata and I’ve got a Santa Cruz Jackal for some dirt jump or pump track action.
Do you have a job outside of mountain biking?
I’m a student at the university of Jena. At the moment I’m in my second semester for a Masters of Psychology.
What are your strengths?
Probably being determined and ambitious. I train hard for my goals and give 101%.
What are your weaknesses?
Definitely patience. And ice cream!
What’s been your worst crash over the years?
Luckily, I’ve been spared from really hard crashes so far. I've just had one in 2017 when I dislocated my elbow. It was actually a stupid crash at the end of a fun ride but the recovery went well and I was back racing after 7 weeks.
When did you decide to start racing downhill World Cups?
As I started racing downhill, it was always my goal to take part at a World Cup race. As my results got better and better, I decided to take part in my first World Cup in 2017, then the thing with the dislocated elbow happened. But this was probably a good decision as I had one more winter to prepare for my first one in Losinj last year.
How did it feel getting your first two podiums back to back this year?
This is hard to describe. So many intense feelings. There was extreme joy and happiness and at the same moment, it felt totally unreal and strange, in a positive way! I still get goosebumps on my whole body when thinking back, especially to Leogang.
You know, before the season started, my goal was it to get on the podium (4 or 5) at least once. After Maribor, I knew it will be only a matter of time before it worked out. But that this could happen right at the next World Cup in Fort William, on a track I had never ridden before and which is physically demanding as hell, and then with a third place – no way! And Leogang, what the f***? I improved the result and was only 2.4 off the win. That’s more than I ever dreamed of this season! But of course, these results are only possible, because two of the very fastest riders are out of the game at moment. I have this in mind, so I'm staying calm and keeping training.
What are the struggles of being a privateer that people might not realise?
Maybe the whole organisation around the World Cups? You have to book accommodations, flights, rent a car and plan your whole travel in advance. That takes a lot of time and energy – for example when your credit card didn’t work (for whatever reason) and therefore your accommodation for Andorra gets cancelled right on the evening you have your first podium in Fort William! I was sat down at my laptop at 11:30pm that night looking for another one, probably not the issue you want to deal with that night, especially when your ferry leaves the next day and you have to get up at 6am.
We’ve seen you hanging out with Santa Cruz Syndicate a lot, is there any connection there? Is there any truth in the speculation you may be riding for them next year?
The Santa Cruz Syndicate is currently helping me at the World Cup races. So whenever I have problems or question or need help, I can come by and they will do their best. That’s very helpful for me and gives me a lot of support. What’s the plan for next year? I really don’t know that yet.
Where’s your favourite place to ride?
I don’t have a favourite one. There are plenty, actually the whole Alps and also some local spots in my home area. I love technical tracks and since this season I also discovered my love to jump (which was actually always a weakness!)
What’s your favourite non-bike website?
I don’t have one, sorry! Everything concerning sports, but also some psychological issues or political stuff.
What’s your favourite motto or saying?
Never stop learning.
What makes you happy?
Riding and racing my bicycle. But actually any kind of sport and being outside in nature. And eating chocolate and ice cream, even if that’s not healthy.
How do you want to be remembered?
As a girl, who’s riding and racing her bike and that she’s just as simple a person as everyone else out there. And if you work hard for your dreams it pays off. Always stay tuned and do what you love!
What does the future hold for Nina Hoffmann?
Hopefully more World Cup races, a life as a pro downhiller for a few years and just enjoying life. ‘Cause you only live once!