D.C. Olympian Jessica Lutz On Sochi & Why You Need A Gym Buddy

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60SecondsWith_PostslidePhoto: Courtesy of Jessica Lutz/Stephanie Lutz.
As we tune in to Sochi each night here in the District, the Olympics can sometimes seem a world away. But, we spied a familiar face in the mix: D.C. resident Jessica Lutz, who's competing on the Swiss women's ice hockey team. Lutz, a dual citizen, was raised in Rockville, MD, and trained locally for the Olympics while working at The Coffee Bar. The bubbly athlete chatted with us from Russia, dishing on her training regime, the atmosphere in Sochi, and keeping New Year's resolutions.

How did you get into competitive women's hockey?
"I first saw a hockey game when I was five, through a boy who we carpooled with to school. I guess I must have really loved it, because after that I told my parents I'd like to play hockey. They said there weren't really any girls' teams for girls my age, but that I could start taking skating lessons. I did that, and then when I was seven, we found a hockey instructional program. When I was nine, I started my first team. [That] was the first season there were enough girls to make one whole team, but we played against all boys' teams."

What's your training been like?
"Here in Sochi...it's been intense. Two practices a day, plus off-ice conditioning and workouts. In preparing for Sochi, since moving to D.C. in March 2013, I've been doing CrossFit, plus getting on the ice about three to four times a week."

How did you end up on the Swiss team?
"My dad is Swiss, so I've had dual citizenship since birth: USA and Switzerland. Making the USA team would have been really tough, so a coach in high school first gave me the idea of trying in Switzerland."

What did you pack to take to Sochi?
"We got a ton of Swiss clothes — about a whole suitcase full — because we have to always be wearing clothes from our sponsors while we are here. So that, plus all my hockey gear and sticks, my Bible, and a few other books. Other than that, really not a lot! They told us not to pack too much or bring a lot of extras, because of all the free stuff that we'll get here."

What was it like to play the U.S. women's hockey team at Sochi?
"It was a tough game, and definitely a disappointment to lose with such a high score. They were really good and fast. In some ways, it's just normal to play against them — I play for the Swiss team, and of course, I want to win and to do my best, no matter who the opponent is. I actually don't feel weird playing against them. I only feel weird thinking that maybe people (fans, media, etc.) are looking at me a little different, knowing I'm half-American."

What are your favorite foods to eat while you're training?
"Pizza, pizza, pizza. I just love pizza. And, pasta. They're good, well-rounded, and balanced meals. Also, a lot of fruit."

Do you have any rituals or special things you do before heading onto the ice?
"Nothing huge. I'm usually in my own head, thinking and focusing on the game. I always pray and usually have a little snack or drink before to give me a little energy."

Do you have any advice for people who are resolved to get in shape in 2014?
"Everybody is different and needs to do different things to reach their goals, but I think you should have people who are keeping you accountable and motivated. Maybe [one person] or a group to work out with. I'm a big fan of CrossFit these days. In the end, you just have to be disciplined and do it."

What has been your overall experience at Sochi?
"It's been amazing and a lot of fun, but also exhausting and somewhat of a blur. It took us a couple of days to get settled in. The first few days were also really intense, with two practices a day plus off-ice [training]. Now it has settled down a little bit and we've had some more free time. My family also arrived a few days ago; [it's] so nice to have them here to share this experience. In general, though, for the athletes it's been great. Our house in the Olympic Village is really nice, the Opening Ceremonies were amazing, the volunteers have been so friendly and helpful, and also, at our games, the fans have been really into it and loud, which has been fun."