Athlete of the Week: Alessandro Pittin (ITA)
After a full calendar of highlights chasing each other, the season of 2013/14 came to a close. With the TRIPLE, Nordic Combined has seen the creation of a new main event, followed by thrilling fights at the Olympic games and the rise of Eric Frenzel as the new superstar of the discipline.
On this last weekend, the ever-important test events for the next highlight, the World Championships in Falun 2015 were on and even with the difficult conditions on the jumping hill, one athlete clearly made his ambitions to return to the top performers of Nordic Combined known: Italy's Alessandro Pittin.
After an absence of over two years, the 24-year-old from Cervicento returned to a World Cup podium with his third rank in the Individual Gundersen competition. Sure, Pittin and his teammate Samuel Costa had also claimed a third rank in the Team Sprint in Ramsau as a first sign of returning success earlier this winter but an individual podium and also a second individual medal at the Olympics stayed closed off of Pittin who finished as unlucky fourth in Sochi.
But after a season gone bad last year with multiple injuries, a less than stellar performance at Pittin's home World Championships in Val di Fiemme and also a psychological hard time to return to the large hills after his shoulder injury from February 2012 and another crash in December 2012, things were definitely lighting up this year.
"I am so happy to be back on an individual podium. It was a tough way to get there after my injuries. But finally I found some good feelings on the hill. I am especially happy to get it at the pre-World Championships. I like the jump here and also the track", Pittin concluded his season with positive words.
As the first Italian ever to medal in an Olympic event in Vancouver 2010, Pittin is extremely important as leader and motivator for the whole team. Looking at this season, it can also be seen in the result lists where Samuel Costa, Lukas Runggaldier and Armin Bauer all have Top Ten results to show for.
Also serving as the athletes' representative in FIS's Athletes' Commission, Pittin has some more work cut out for him also in the upcoming spring time: "I'm looking forward to creating something special over the next two years. I think there are still a lot of things to improve in our discipline; particularly how to get more people involved in Nordic Combined", he said in an interview for a sponsor. So all signs are set for progress for our Athlete of the Week and if the upward trend continues, we are sure we will see way more of him again on the podiums of the World Cup.