Ariana Fontana, record and receiver: ‘My fire is still burning’

Turin, February 22, 2006. In a paella Packed and shouting, dozens of waving tricolor flags: On the ice, four girls dressed in blue They just wrote a page from sports history, Winning – in the 3000m relay – Italy’s first women’s medal at short path In the Olympic Games. Among them is a rising star of skiing, Ariana Fontanawhich becomes at 15 years and 314 days the smallest blue To reach the podium of artificial intelligence Winter Games. Register in the log.

BeijingFebruary 16, 2022. In the stands Capital Indoor Stadium – Due to anti-Covid restrictions – there is only Journalists and professionals. On the track, sixteen years after this sensational exploitation, the spotlight is on again her: blond hair that sticks out of the helmet, bright eyes, Hands pointing to the sky. hero sondriowith a silver medal in 1500 AD, she is officially an Italian woman Most titled ever At the Olympics with Ben 11 platforms Five circles. “Where do I keep the medals? They are all In my father’s housewhich is only showing the current season,” Ariana reveals with a smile, who recently celebrated his 32nd birthday. “When I have permanent residence, I I will return them“.

Did you ever dream of winning games as a kid?
‘Absolutely yes. As a kid I wanted to do what my brother did, who was actually skating. In the spring/summer we used the wheels, in the fall/winter we used to snow: I got to a point where I didn’t have any more rest, so I had to The choice. And since wheels are not an Olympic discipline, I chose ice.”

Remember your first pair of skates?
“They were on wheels, not in line. Pink, a color I hated, but only my family members were able to find me. The initial attempts were a disaster I couldn’t stand ».

Not everything is clear from the very beginning, given the torrent of successes in your career: is there a success that you remember with special affection?
“My first gold at the European Championships, I was 16 years old. Evgenia Radanova, who was my idol, was still a competitor at that time. When she came to train in Italy, we became friends, but hitting her at the time was a moment of great pride. Perhaps this is where I realized that I could achieve important results.”

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Five Olympics in a row, I’d say the feeling was right: Can you tell me the first image that comes to mind at each edition of the Games?
«At the first appearance in Turin, the audience roaring entering the track: electric atmosphere, incredible emotion. In Vancouver, after my first podium, I remember my brother waving the Italian flag in the stands: I think our relationship changed there, before we were like cat and dog. Sochi, on the other hand, is the most bitter of all Olympics, and I still think about that fall in the 500m. In Pyeongchang, I remember an evening of partying with the other athletes at the end of the races, and the need to unleash the vitality. In Beijing, on the other hand, I was surprised by the passion and appreciation that the competing teams showed me: it was really beautiful moments.”

Is there anything that unites this long journey? win aside.
“My hunger, my desire to get better, and that is never enough. The fire he was inside is still the same, still burning today. I think in all these years I’ve seen the short trajectory completely change.”

How has your feeling changed?
“As a young man I wanted to participate in all the races and I always wanted to win. I recently understood that you need to know how to take breaks to get to an important date and your body and mind are ready.”

She prepared the Beijing Games in Hungary alone with her crew. Does it weigh you down or give you more reasons?
“I surrounded myself with people I trust, but training with my teammates would certainly have been easier, especially mentally: on a physical level, you can handle it, but suffering together on the track, with someone who has the same goals, helps you a lot to improve.”

Already in 2010, in Canada, he said, “We were never a group.” Was there really any episode at that time that led you into certain situations?
“I don’t pretend to be everyone’s friend, as in every job you find colleagues with whom you get along better and treat others less. But I am someone who when he does something sets himself very high goals and works hard to reach them, which is why he always asks for the best from those close to him. I think that only in this way can there be a general growth, and not just an individual. The point is not to be content with what you have, but I understand that there are also visions that are different from mine.”

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She stayed on topic, and even said that some band members tried to beat her up. Was an explanation given?
“Frankly, I don’t know why, and after a long time, I don’t even care: although I don’t forget what happened, I forgave these guys. With Andrea Cassinelli we also found a way to work well together and the results were seen in the mixed relay. Anyway, I’ve also found a way to work well together. I asked the question not so much for my personal issue, but because I wanted what happened to me not to happen to any other athlete: it was like an appeal to the federation.”

Did he get any answers?
“Already after Sochi, in 2014, I met with Andrea Gius (president of the International Telecommunication Union) and indicated that the team needed certain personalities: a sports psychologist, for example, a nutritionist, a physiotherapist, I don’t think I’m asking anything Impossible. I wanted to create a calm and safe environment, with professional staff, that would help the athletes achieve their goals. Nothing else.”

Looking to the future, he said his presence at Milan-Cortina is bound to lead to “a change of things”. Do you mean these?
“Quite simply, I would like to have an internal regulation with rules of coexistence, which allows everyone to work in a non-toxic environment. And to grow mathematically and humanely.”

Keeping looking forward to the future, have you ever thought about motherhood?
“Suppose that since our return from Beijing, Anthony and I (Lobello, former skater, coach and now husband of Ariana) have been under pressure, especially from my parents (laughs, editor’s note). They said in an interview that they would rather have a grandson than another medal. So yeah, we talked about it at home, but we don’t know when it’s going to happen. But we both want it.”

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Speaking of Anthony, are you able to leave sports issues on the right track?
“We have survived to this day, so I would say we have been adept at splitting the roles of coach/athlete and husband/wife. Naturally, in the light of a great event, such as the Olympic Games, some speeches and some feelings will also take you home.”

What unites you and what separates you?
“We both do, if we do one thing, we try to do it as best we can: and then process the feelings, Anthony is a person with a really big heart, even though many think it’s cold because they only see it in the professional field. As for the differences, I am a person who lives So much at the moment, instead, he is already thinking three years ago, always considering thousands of different options: sometimes I find it hard to keep up.”

And here I ask you for a special effort: if you close your eyes, where do you imagine in ten years?
“With my family, I still don’t know if I am in Italy or in the United States (Lubello’s home country). Lately we often talk about where we want to raise our children: for the education system, which gives you more time to decide what to do in life, we are now geared toward America. But we will see, there is time.”

For the future. And to get new records.

Other stories about Vanity Fair that may interest you

Who is Ariana Fontana, the blue medalist with the biggest medal ever
Ariana Fontana, the legend on the short track, is still gold
Ariana Fontana And The Courage To Say “No”

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Queenie Bell

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