Team Italy: The scent of medals

#fisnoco around the world continues. NeveItalia editor Francesco Paone gives his commentary on the situation, development and future chances for Team Italy. 

The Italian team is working hard after a winter made of peaks and roughs. Clearly the goal is try to reach more stable performances through the entire season. To do so, the key is to improve in the jumping side. Almost all the azzurri are well known for being very fast in cross-country skiing, but lacking consistency on the hill. 

Samuel Costa and Alessandro Pittin feel the “scent of medals”

The big exception is Samuel Costa, who has different features compared to the majority of his teammates. The 25 years old from Wolkenstein in Gröden certainly has his strength in the jump and he comes from his breakthrough season, in which he was able to gain his first World Cup podiums, finishing two times in third position during the Seefeld Triple. Also he managed to enter the Top Ten many times.

When in top shape, Costa proved he can be one of the best jumpers of the Nordic Combined circuit. However he lacks steadiness, mostly due to chronic ailments with his knees which often force him to take breaks from training. Even during this spring, Samuel had to face these kind of problems.

So the big goal for the young South-Tyrolean is to stay healthy, in order to train steadily and to be able to express his full potential in a long period. Surely Costa, at his best, can repeat the performances shown in the 2016-17 season, making his way through the Top Ten and, with a bit of luck, even to the podium.

Speaking of hope, this is the key word surrounding Alessandro Pittin. The 27 years old from Cercivento comes from a couple of difficult seasons because of huge technical problems on the hill. However, there is optimism in the Italian staff about the possibility to rebuild his competitiveness, especially on the normal hills.

First because “Pitbull” already proved to be like a Phoenix, rising multiple times from his ashes in the past. Second because positive signals were seen during last winter. So there is a good chance he can come back again already in the next season, fighting for the podium at least in the races with jump on smaller hills. Moreover, the Friulian is able to give his best when he feels “scent of medals”, as testified by the bronze in the 2010 Olympics and the silver in the 2015 World Championships, plus the fourth place in Sochi.

Veterans trying to bounce back and newcomers who look for a breakthrough

Costa and Pittin are undoubtedly the two big Italian hopes to obtain great results in the upcoming winter, however there is more in the team: promising young guns who aim a breakthrough and experienced athletes who target a comeback.    

Inter alia two very promising guys are rising. Raffaele Buzzi, 22 years old from Tarvis, has already scored World Cup points in the 2015-16 season. He struggled during last winter due to the aftermath of a surgery required to resolve a lower back injury. However the Friulian is to be taken into high account. He proved to be a balanced athlete, with good skills both on the hill and in the cross-country skiing. Surely, if he can stay healthy, he has great margin of improvement.

Looking to the future there are many stored hopes on Aaron Kostner, an 18-year-old from St.Ulrich. This South-Tyrolean teenager is the type of a little Björn Kircheisen because he’s strong in the cross-country and he shows his best performances on the larger hills. Probably the upcoming winter is too early for him to show his qualities in the World Cup, nevertheless he must be watched with attention in the Continental Cup races.  

So these two youngster are trying to make their breakthrough, while two veterans are fighting for a return to the top level. Lukas Runggaldier (30, from St. Christina in Gröden) and Armin Bauer (27, from St. Ulrich) had a very complicated season, during which they were unable to score a single World Cup point. They both struggled on the hill but they also gained many good placements in the COC circuit, showing a fast pace in the cross-country skiing. 

The two experienced Grödners are now working to rebuild their jumping technique, in order to regain an adequate level to be competitive also in the World Cup, where in the past they both entered the Top Ten.

Strong Italian team on the ladies’ side

Italian Winter Sports Federation (Fisi) should be one of the top sponsors of the Ladies Nordic Combined, because Italy has three very interesting girls on the launching ramp. Lisa Moreschini (16), Lena Prinoth (14) and Annika Sieff (13) make Italian fans very excited about the birth of the Ladies Continental Cup.

Speaking of Fisi, there are always great expectations on the Nordic Combined team led by coach Paolo Bernardi. The hope is these expectations will become reality, also to help this discipline to gain more media attention. Eurosport Italy broadcasts the entire season but the coverage on the mainstream media is incomplete and depends by the azzurri’s performances.  


SOME WORDS ABOUT NEVEITALIA

NeveItalia is a website born in 2007, dedicated to all news about skiing and ski tourism in Italy. In 2013 it expanded his coverage also on sports, absorbing the other website WinterSportNews.

Since then, NeveItalia is the leading Italian website about information on cross country skiing, ski jumping, nordic combined and biathlon, with a strong orientation on international news and stories. It also offers complete coverage for Alpine Skiing, where is more Italy-focused, Snowboard and Freestyle.