Bergamo’s dark days inspire Italy’s Olympic hopefuls

Sophia Goggia, downhill skier which was photographed during the World Cup match in Austria on Sunday. The Italian flag will be held at the opening ceremony of Beijing 2022 AFP/AP

The ambulance sirens resounded endlessly. A convoy of military trucks carried overflowing coffins. Funeral – or absent

No one lived at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in Bergamo. which was the first center of COVID-19 in Europe, will never forget it.

For Sofia Goggia and Michela Moioli, the city’s two Olympic champions – Goggia in alpine skiing downhill and Moioli in cross snowboarding – the dark days in March and April 2020 have been a source of inspiration as they try to honor. 6,000 people died in the Bergamo area by defending their gold medal at next month’s Beijing Games.

Since last season, Goggia has competed with Bergamo’s skyline by dragging the back of her helmet.

“It was difficult. I stayed at home for two months. An ambulance goes every 10 minutes,” Goggia said. “People have fear in their eyes. Terror is everywhere. We are all afraid.”

When Moioli’s grandmother died of COVID-19 in March 2020, the family was unable to hold a traditional funeral due to tight lockdowns. Her grandfather was also hospitalized for three months. before finally recovering from the virus

“We had a really bad time in 2020 and maybe during that time we learned something and we tried to get better. both as a person and as an athlete,” Moioli said.

The same can be said for the entire Italian team, which are looking to replicate the country’s unprecedented success at last year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Italy wins a record 40 medals in Tokyo and won gold at the most prestigious event, Marcell Jacobs in the 100m Gianmarco Tamberi in the high jump. and the men’s 4×100 relay

“The Tokyo Olympics gave us the motivation to tackle two months of endless gym training,” Goggia said of her pre-season preparations.

The banner year for Italy also saw the country’s football team win the European Championship and the Roman Maneskin band winning the Eurovision Song Contest.

“Now it’s our turn,” said World Cup giant slalom champion Marta Bassino.

Goggia, Bassino and Federica Brigone, the 2019-20 overall World Cup champions, gave Italy the ski challengers three medals. while the men’s side has top downhills in Dominik Paris and rising contenders in Luca De Aliprandini for giant slalom and Alex Vinatzer for slalom.

Goggia and Moioli were chosen to carry the Italian flag at the respective opening and closing ceremonies in Beijing.

When President Sergio Italy’s Mattarella presented Goggia with a green-white-red flag at a ceremony last month. The skier recalled an emotional speech she received a call from the head of state after she was disqualified from last season. Snow World Championships at home in Cortina d’Ampezzo after a fracture in her right knee

“You encourage me to look forward to a distant goal, to Beijing 2022,” Goggia told Mattarella. “You encouraged me to dig deep into my heart and move forward despite the obstacles in my path. And I believe I have done that.”

Indeed, Goggia is back as the best downhill skier since Lindsay Vonn’s climax, including stretching when she won seven straight downhills.

Snowboarder Michela Moioli (left), flag bearer at Italy’s closing ceremony, and Goggia spoke on behalf of the Winter Games at Milan-Cortina 2026 at the 134th International Olympic Committee meeting in Lausanne in 2019 AFP/AP

“Sofia is determined. She knows what she wants,” said Flavio Roda, president of the Italian Winter Games Federation. and former coach of Alberto Tomba, slalom legend said. “Winning all the matches in a row is not easy in terms of concentration.”

Either it’s a lack of concentration or simply because of too much speed in the dark parts of the field. Goggia’s victory streak came to an abrupt end in her latest slump in Austria on Saturday when she crashed into a safety net. She returned without any serious injuries. and returned to compete in super-G the next day.

Moioli, meanwhile, finished third at the World Cup at the Olympic Stadium at Secret Garden in November, then posted a win in Cervinia last month.

Moioli met Goggia while recuperating her knee after she fell at the 2014 Olympics final. At the age of 18, Moioli had just finished third and won a bronze medal when she touched the edge with a contestant and fell.

“That moment helped me in my career,” Moioli said. “Step by step we became very close.”

The close ties were made clear in 2019 when Goggia and Moioli delivered a joint speech and talks in unison in front of nearly 100 members of the International Olympic Committee on voting for the 2026 Winter Games. They were later considered important for Milan-Cortina’s successful bid. which defeated the voters with their positive energy.

So naturally Both skiers and snowboarders will continue to compete until the 2026 Games, when women’s skiing will compete at Cortina on Goggia’s favorite course and snowboarding will take place at Livigno on the training ground of Goggia. Moioli

Moioli’s duties at the closing ceremony mean she will participate in the official repatriation from Beijing to Milan-Cortina It is also the first time Italy has named the flag-bearer for the closing ceremony before the Olympics begin.

“It’s an honor,” Moioli said. “It will be a link between Beijing and our game in Milan-Cortina.”

Bergamo will also be represented.

Agency via Xinhua

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