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Lisette Thoene. Retired Star Reflects On A Brilliant Career

Lisl provided Germany with a multitude of World Cup medals. The German Foghorn (so named by us for her distinctive war-cry when supporting her race-day teammates) served her country with distinction. The Brake finds out what her highlights were and where life is headed now she's free.

Credit: Lisette Thoene

TBM: Thanks for talking to us Lisette! You had an amazing career in bobsleigh. Where did it all start?

LT: So before bobsleigh I did track and field. I was a long jumper. But I had a lot of injuries, generally with the foot that I jumped with.

So after a lot of these problems I thought, ‘ok I’m done with track and field, but I’m not done with sport.’ and at the German Championships I got talking to a coach who I knew was involved with bobsleigh.

1 week later I was at my first push training session at the army base in Koniggssee and then 4 or 5 months later I sat in a bob behind Anja Schneiderheinze for my first run down Winterberg.

TBM: And ….. ?

LT: And I felt sick and thought, ‘never again!’. But then I went back up the track and did my second run and from there the story began.

TBM: I had pretty much the exact same experience.

LT: You can’t describe how bobsleigh feels. It’s not like driving a fast car or riding a rollercoaster, it’s just totally different!

Credit: Lisette Thoene

TBM: What was your favourite part of training?

LT: I think it’s a combination of everything really. You have to be really strong and at the same time really fast. Plus, when you’re on season, you also have all the mechanical work to do on the sled.

So there is the physical part and the hands-on mechanic part too which was cool.

I really enjoyed the sprinting aspects of training, and for most of my career liked the squat and I got pretty good at it. Towards the end of my career I liked it less though! I wanted to be able to give everything I did my best effort but I just lacked motivation with squat towards the end.

It was a new experience to get strong in this way though, and funnily enough, as I got stronger and heavier for bobsleigh, I got faster than I ever was in track!

Credit: Lisette Thoene

TBM: What was your favourite part of competing?

LT: Firstly I love the fact that you race in any weather. It can be nice, it can be raining, it can be freezing cold and snowing, but despite the conditions you must give your best effort.

Lots of us come across from track and field and obviously we love the warm weather. You learn in bobsleigh that you can still sprint in minus temperatures too! It still works.

There’s also the team aspect. I love that. I am responsible for supporting my pilot, responsible for the materials we compete with, it is not just about me.

I also tried driving for one year and discovered how you have such a short time to react. Any mistake within a split second and it’s all over. It’s a big pressure.

Credit: Lisette Thoene

TBM: What are your fondest competition memories?

LT: My very first World Cup was in Igls, Austria in 2011. It was also my first gold medal! I still have scars on my legs from the ice spikes during the push! It was so overwhelming though, so I will always remember this.

My retirement race in 2020 will also be a fond memory. It was in Sigulda, Latvia and my pilot had crashed there the year before. I had raced less in the last couple years of my career and in my retirement season I had 2 World Cup races on the podium which was special.

I was really proud of the Sigulda result. We stepped on the podium knowing we had managed our training week really well, I had supported my pilot really well, so yes it was a very satisfying final result for me.

Also, that day you guys sang to us for Valentines Day which was really cool!

TBM: Ha yes team GB taking things seriously as always.

LT: No it was fun! You didn’t even have a women’s GB team there competing and you still came out to do that for us, it was really cool.

So yes my first and last races were my best competition memories!

Credit: Lisette Thoene, final race in Sigulda, Latvia

TBM: So, as mentioned at the top, you are now free! What does life look like for Lisette going forward?

LT: I have lots of ideas but no real plan just yet!

I think I will remain in sport in some way. I’ve actually just been asked to help Serina Joerg (German Parallel Snowboard Slalom World Champion) with her athletic training.

We started that project recently, it’s a lot of work, but also a lot of fun so that’s great.

I think next year I will also train as a pelvic floor expert! So I will help women at different stages of their pregnancy train and strengthen their pelvic floors which is really important for them.

There are less midwives in Germany at the moment and it’s a service they don’t have time to offer. I think there’s a great opportunity there to support them.

I’m also looking at training as a nutritional therapist and naturopath. I am really interested in nutrition but more from the therapy side. I used to have bad inflammation issues with my achilles tendon and found that when I adjusted my diet, it helped clear the problem.

But we will see!

Credit: Lisette Thoene enjoying headshots day

TBM: Tell us something about yourself that we might not know?

LT: Hmm, well, as you know, I’m a pretty loud person but interestingly I get super nervous in public speaking situations! I stutter and stumble on my words.

Most people don’t believe this because they only know me as a very talky, loud person but I’m totally different in that environment. I’m trying to get better at it though.

I’m also quite environmentally conscious. I try to implement in my daily life buying more organic and local produce. I also take my own containers or dishes to places I get my lunch from to try and limit my use of plastic.

I just try my best to be a good human citizen!

TBM: That's great Lisl thank you for your time today! Now, as you know, I force every interviewee to answer a stupid question at the end. So here is yours.

Lisette Thoene, would you rather:

Burp loudly every time you say hello, or fart loudly every time you see your boyfriend's mother?

LT: Hmm. I think I would fart! She’s not living that close, I wouldn't see her that often and she's a midwife so is probably used to bodily functions so she wouldn’t care!

TBM: Excellent.


Follow Lisette’s onward journey via her Instagram: @lisettethoene

Follow the official instagram of the German team here: @official_bsd

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