Forza Sudtirolia

27 December 2010 10:18

By Michael Mastarciyan

There’s an old joke a Tyrolean friend of mine told me the first time I visited the beautiful Alpine region of Sudtirol, Italy…and it goes like this…

Not long after the dissolution of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire and the annexation of the Sudtirol region by Italy after the end of the First World War an old Sudtiroler farmer is asked by a journalist what he thinks about the new border configuration and geo-political situation. The farmer takes a minute to think and responds, “You know it’s very strange - we did not win the war but still, they gave us Italy!”

That, in a nutshell, is the deal in this spectacular alpine corner of Europe - a mountainous region where German speaking, lederhosen-friendly, former Austrians hold Italian passports and race under the banner of il Tricolore.

For a North American ski journalist with pre-conceived notions of what an Italian name should sound like - hearing names like Werner Heel, Peter Fill, Christof Innerhofer, Stefan Thanei and Patrick Staudacher – instead of Alberto Tomba, Deborah Compagnoni, Giuliano Razzoli or Elena and Nadia Fanchini is a bit odd – but then again, geo-political borders are just imaginary lines and ski racers, like books, should never be judged by their names or covers.

Still, there is some level curiosity, especially for non-European race fans, on the degree of “Italian-ness” of these particular racers. Based on their names, and the places they grew up in, it’s fairly easy to figure out what their Sudtirolian identities must be like - what their favourite beers, wursts or strudels are for example. But what about the Italian sides of their personalities? What are their favourite tastes, their favourite “cittas” or favorite race cars from the jewel-like Mediterranean peninsula that gave the world Lasagna, Roma and Ferraris?

Having had the opportunity to interview them this season, I’ve managed to compile an interesting assortment of facts and tidbits on the various “Italian” tastes and habits of alpine skiing’s “Forza Italia” from the strudel eating, schnapps drinking northern part of World’s most famous geographic “boot.”

And, to put their answers in a truer Italian context, I’ve also canvassed the team’s young Italian speedster Matteo Marsaglia, who hails from the southern and more traditionally Italian part of the country, as a sort of Italian “measuring stick” or gauge with whom the others can be compared. Here is a sampling of the various Italian “likes” from the alpine Azzurri:


Favourite Italian Food:

Heel: Pizza, Pasta, “Icaro” sandwiches from Italian highway restaurants

Innerhofer: Pizza con Prosciutto e Mozzarella di Bufala

Fill: Pasta and Pizza

Thanei: Pizza

Staudacher: Pizza

Marsaglia: Pizza con Mozzarella di Bufala


Favourite Pasta:

Heel: Penne al Pesto

Innerhofer: Spaghetti al Pesto

Fill: Linguine

Thanei: Macaroni con Tonno

Staudacher: Spaghetti Ragu

Marsaglia: Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino


Favourite flavour of Gelato:

Heel: Stracciatella

Innerhofer: Apple (specifically from his favourite Gelateria Merlu in Bruneck)

Fill: Stracciatella

Thanei: Vanilla creme

Staudacher: Coffee

Marsaglia: Gianovia


Favourite Italian Car:

Heel: Ferrari

Innerhofer: Ferrari

Fill: Ferrari

Thanei: Lamborghini

Staudacher: Ferrari

Marsaglia: Ferrari


Favourite Italian City (outside of Sudtirol)

Heel: Verona

Innerhofer: Catania

Fill: Florence

Thanei: Rome

Staudacher: Florence

Marsaglia: Rome


Favorite Italian Singer:

Heel: Vasco Rossi

Innerhofer: Laura Pausini

Fill: Zucchero

Thanei: Jovanotti

Staudacher: Vasco Rossi

Marsaglia: Ligabue


Favourite Serie A Football Team:

Heel: Juventus

Innerhofer: Not a big football (soccer) fan

Fill: Juventus

Thanei: Novara (It should be noted that Novara is a Serie B team. Furthermore, it should be noted that Innerhofer immediately and loudly objected to Thanei’s admission that he was a Novara supporter and accused him of not being a “big football fan” and demanded Thanei name at least two players on the team. Thanei quickly responeded with the names Cristian Bertani and Manuel Scavone, and Innerhofer backed off with a sheepish grin on his face)

Staudacher: Not a big football (soccer) fan

Marsaglia: Roma