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Italy: 2024 Pre-Season notes

Apennine Wolves

NOTE: Staffing attrition in the hospital where I work weekends has necessitated weekdays as well since mid-August. Losing the cushy schedule has put me behind posting Pre-Season team notes. For the remaining teams, I will cite racers’ WAWC records for the previous three seasons, and Continental Cup races if relevant. (I'd compiled fuller results for three Italians here before job work increased.) Delving into pre-WAWC Europa Cup, Nor-Am, FIS races illuminates the athletes’ arduous paths to the big show, but takes time and prompts more career arc speculation than I can process right now. So, I will use recent stats and pithy evaluation/impressions re 2024’s campaign. Lacking pith, my efforts sag and lag behind schedule. I appreciate your understanding.

Note: Pre-Season Team notes will profile 4 or 5 A-team members. Usually 2 veteran/prime year racers, and 2 (usually) younger folks who I think will improve/break out, or should rebound after a weak 2023 campaign. During the season I aim to discuss racers I omit here.

Italy’s WAWC team has two slam-dunk HOFers, one on the cusp, and another whose steepening trajectory will place her in the pantheon.

Federica Brignone and Sofia Goggia rank among the best ski racers ever. We’ll be discussing them all season. Fede is always EOS T3 in something, and will be again this year. Probably SG, per recent history. For many of her fans—and I suspect for herself--Sofia’s season is inconsequential if she doesn’t win the DH title. 2024 would be her 4th consecutive, 5th overall. She can also uncork SG.

For emerging fans, I’ll run through Fede’s and Sofia’s basic accomplishments. Marta Bassino, one of WAWC’s strongest talents, is profiled in 26 July Feature. First let’s look at a few others.

Elena Curtoni

Elena Curtoni has fashioned a borderline HOF career, laboring quietly amidst more extroverted teammates. (I, at least, haven’t heard her yell.) Her 257 WAWC starts must be T5 of active racers, I’d think. (Look at this) Speed’s her thing—SG every season but one (2018 injured OFS); DH lapsed a few years, including 2018. The past four campaigns, however, Elena’s been right in the Speed hunt. Indeed, 2024 was her best overall season hands down.

Curtoni’s wide experience shows again how immersed professional ski racers are in their sport. A South American Cup season at age 16. Elena’s chic—cool, stylishly understated. Comfortable anywhere in the world. Mastroianni would be tickled to be her sidekick.

WAWC EOS DH & SG - 2020 through 2023. Strong consecutive/full seasons; 2019 recovery from 2018.

2023 Overall 9th

DH 4th – 9 starts – 1st; 3d; 3x8th; 2xT13; 21st

SG 4th – 8 starts – 2x2nd; 4xT10; 2xT13

2022 Overall 13th

DH 19th – 9 starts – 2xT10; 6xT16; 22nd

SG 2nd – 9 starts – 1st; 2nd; 3d; 4xT10; 15th; DNF

2021 Overall 14th

DH 9th – 7 starts – 3d; 3xT10; 3xT15;

SG 10th – 6 starts – 2xT10; 3xT15; DNF

2020 Overall 15th

DH 6th – 8 starts – 1st; 2xT10; 4xT20; 22nd

SG 11th – 6 starts - 2x7th; 4xT16

2022 Olympics – DH 5th; SG 10th; GS 20th. (Injured for PyeongChang and Sochi)

World Championships - 2011 to 2023. 6 meets

DH – 2 starts - 8th; 13th

SG – 6 starts – 3xT10 (5th); 15th; 2x18th

AC/Super-C – 6 starts – 4th; 9th; 2xT16; 2xDNF (Solid SL chops, though never runs WAWC SL.)

National Championships – 2007 to 2023. 13 meets

DH – 9 starts – 6xT10; 23d; 36th; DNF

SG – 10 starts - 3x2nd; 3d; 3x5th; 7th; 10th, DNF

GS – 10 starts – 1st; 5xT10; 3xT25; DNF

SL – 9 starts – 6xT10; 13th; 23d; 31st

South American Cup – 2007 (16th years old)

DH – 4 starts – 2x4th; 25th; 27th

SG – 1 start – 17th

GS – 3 starts – 3d; 9th; DNF

SL – 2 starts – 6th; DNF

This is a great WAWC career. With basically four seasons (2014/15 & 2018/19) lost points-wise to injury/recovery, Elena’s excellent 2023 Speed campaign expresses her true standard, I think. Turning 33 next February, I reckon she’ll go two more seasons—unless 2024 is disappointing and she decides to retire. I don’t see that; stay healthy and the hard-won top-flight ability will prevail. She’ll be T6 both Speed disciplines this year.

Laura Pirovano

Turns 26 in November.

Laura (Lolli) Pirovano started as a 3-Discipline prospect—DH, SG, GS—with GS emphasized. Focused on GS in EC until clear it wasn’t working out. Two really horribly-timed injuries cost her the 2018 and 2022 seasons. 2022 especially cruel, coming off 2021 EOS DH 6th at age 24. She’s fighting back, with a long way to go. IG shows athletic absorption—a bunch of ski racing of course, and skin diving in jealousy-provoking seas. I also see an absolute joie de vivre, not exactly light-hearted, but assumed. Perhaps a survival instinct within the professional demands. She’s tight with Marta Bassino. Does being on a lower career trajectory than her bud affect her? Lolli also appears to have a fella in her life, along with cats and dogs. She seems balanced.

Lolli’s quick. Frequently near the top on training runs, she needs to lay it down on race day. Kvitfjell DH 4 March last season, from bib 20 she was 0.09 up on the leader entering a crucial set of turns, and nearly skied out. A massive error, and still she caught 15th, ahead of some big names. Experience usually solidifies discipline and control. I think it will for Pirovano.


2023 DH 21st – 9 starts – 2xT10; 5xT20; 23d; 31st

SG 27TH – 7 starts – 9th; 2xT20; 2xT30; 32d; DNF

2022 OFS Injury knee

2021 DH 6TH- 7 starts – 4xT10 (4th); 3xT20

SG 26TH – 6 starts – 2xT20; 2xT30; 2xDNF

2020 DH 26th – 6 starts – 3xT20; 3xT30

SG 35th- 5 starts – 17th; 3xT30; DNF

GS – 5 starts – 20th; 30th; 3xDNF/Q

2019 GS – 5 starts – 5xDNQ Not back in WC form.

2018 Feb crash Cortina SG – OFS

European Cup

2020 SG - 2 starts – 11th; 13th. GS dropped

2019 GS – 8 starts – 17th; 6xT30; DNF. SG 1 start DNF

2018 OFS

2017 A couple of intensive years

DH – 7 starts – 1st; 2nd; 3d; 4xT10. Superb!

SG – 6 starts – 4th; 8th; 3xT18; DNF

GS – 8 starts – 3d; 4xT10; 17th; 23d; 45th. Hmmm..


DH – 6 starts – 4xT8; 16th; 21st

SG – 5 starts – 3xT10; 13th; DNF

GS – 9 starts – 1st; 3d; 3xT8; 2xT14; 27th; DNF

Post-injury, Lolli started 2019 season solely GS, and it wasn’t good—neither WAWC nor EC. Speed was back 2020 & 2021, with GS still lagging. Then 2022 OFS knee. 2023 return Speed only—pretty clear that’s her place. Not sure if injuries influenced decisive transition GS to Speed—ie. whether knee now more suited to/comfortable with Speed’s mechanics. The kid’s tough, that’s for sure. Two major rehabs within three years. Now that she’s on an 18- to 20-race schedule, she can settle into where a painful, and I imagine frustrating, journey has led her.

2024 EOS I think Pirovano will improve five positions both DH & SG—DH 16th; SG 22th. And I look for her 2025 EOS DH T12; SG T15/16. A significant ranking breakout this year? Would need some major attrition up the line, which no one wants. She has time.

Nadia Delago

Of Italy’s younger A-team folks, Nadia Delago looks the most promising to me. Though she followed an excellent 2022 EOS DH 8th with a puzzling 2023 EOS DH 34th, I’m figuring the regression was health- or equipment-related and correctible. (I’ve found no mention of injury and she didn’t change gear, but persistent minor issues can throw off a season.) Nadia was given one start at Beijing (DH) and cooked, taking bronze by 0.14 over Kira Weidle. That next month at the Italian National Championships she won DH and was third in SG. 2022 was a very good season.

Turning 26 this November, Delago should have at least six more years to make her WAWC career statement. Further research may/should explain last year’s swoon—if no physical/objective reason is evident, that’s concerning, as her race composure should be settled by now. And figuring 2024’s results is tough when such different racers may show up.

WC EOS DH. SG stats.

2023 33d – 8 starts – 6xT30; 33d; 44th. SG – 6 starts – 3xT40; 3xDNF.

2022 8th – 9 starts – 5xT8 (4th); 2xT20; 2xT25. SG – 8 starts – 18th; 27th; 4xT40

2021 20th – 7 starts – 10th; 3xT20; 23d; 3xT30. SG – 6 starts – 3xT40; 3xDNF.

2020 40th - 8 starts – 4xT30; 2xT35; 43d; DNF. SG – 6 starts – 27th; 2xT40; 3xDNF

2022 Olympics – DH 3d. Brava!

EC – Recent seasons

2023 – 4 starts – DH 17th; 23d. SG 11th; 30th. Extra starts during a tough season.

2022 – No starts

2021 – 3 starts – DH DNF. SG 4th; 8th.

2020 – No starts

2019DH - 7 starts – 3x1st; 2nd; 5th; 13th; DNF. SG – 5 starts – 11th; 17th; 24th; DNF; DSQ

2018DH – 6 starts – 2xT20; 3xT40; DNF. SG – 6 starts - 27th; 44th; 2xT55; 2xDNF

FIS – Tactical starts to complement WAWC.

2023 – 2 starts – SG 22nd; 24th.

2022 – 2 starts – SG 2x5th.

2021 – 2 starts – SG 2x5th.

2020 – No starts

2018DH – 2 starts – 2x4th. SG – 3 starts – 3d; 2xDNF.

Nadia committed to WAWC at age 23. I imagine her coaches saw she ran hot/cold in EC so set her up on a meaningful WAWC Speed regimen with FIS on the side to sharpen up under less pressure. We see in 2020 Delago was thrown to the wolves on the senior circuit, then several EC/FIS SG supplemental starts in 2021. Left to find her own DH way, she did…then regressed 2023. Will the EC/FIS tinkering continue in 2024?

She’s committed to full Speed schedule. The extra SG starts indicate, I’d think, that her coaches will let her DH talent run its course solely in WC, counting on reclaimed form this year. EC SG attention may well continue. Her social media seems to show someone shyer than her older sister Nicol, who is also a solid Speed racer on the Italian team, fighting back from 2021 OFS leg injury. Nadia has a big fluffy Samoyed she loves hugging, and seems more reserved than most of her teammates. She knows the next two seasons must be good ones, and that her talent’s much better than the record shows.

Speculating on her 2024 season is guesswork for me, especially with no knowledge of how summer training is going. I hope she makes DH T20 at least. 2023 drop-off very odd. Could have been equipment issues. Will definitely check in on Nadia after first couple of Speed weekends.

Federica Brignone

One of ski racing’s best, by any measure. 305 WAWC starts; 70 EC starts. 1 Overall title; 2 x Discipline globes (SG & GS). 3x2nd EOS GS. Podium totals 21x1st; 21x2nd; 14x3d. Not stratospheric but makes A-team every cut. Excellent Olympics & Worlds. Two summer training MCL (knee) strains 2018 & 2022, recoveries within a few weeks I think, only health issues I found. Super confident, ready and raring to go. Grounded, flamboyant; subtly shrewd too, I sense. Plays her cards slowly. Overall, IMO, no brighter star in today’s WAWC constellation.

Turned 33 this past July. I’ll stake a liquor box-full of USA road maps circa 1950s-1970s (individual states and national) that Fede runs 2025 season (World Championships), and a pair of late 19th century ice skates (children’s; lace directly onto shoes/boots) that she’ll retire after 2026 Olympics. Cortina can't be missed. (You can have the maps in any event. Let me know.)

See also 20 July Feature – 3 Heavy Hitters for additional Fede info.

2020-2023 EOS Overall and DH, SG, GS. (SL omitted; best ranking 32d)

2023 4th

DH 14th – 7 starts – 2nd; 3xT7; 18th; 28th; 35th

SG 2nd – 8 starts – 1st; 2x2nd; 5th; 2x11th; 21st; 26th

GS 5th – 10 starts – 2x2nd; 3d; 6xT10; DNF

2022 3d

DH 14th – 9 starts – 3xT10; 6xT20

SG 1st – 9 starts – 3x1st; 5xT10; 19th

GS 6th – 8 starts – 1st; 2nd; 2x4th; 7th; 3xDNF

2021 7th

DH 19th- 6 starts – 2x9th; 2xT17; 23d; DNF

SG 2nd – 6 starts – 1st; 2x3d; 5th; 7th; 12th

GS 5th – 8 starts – 2x2nd; 5xT8; DNF

2020 1st. A season this good must be flaunted.

DH 3d – 6 starts – 2x2nd; 3d; 4th; 7th; 17th

SG 2nd – 6 starts – 1st; 2x2nd; 5th; 7th; DNF

GS 1st – 6 starts – 2x1st; 2nd; 3xT8

Re EOS 2024…let’s go with DH T12; SG T3/4; GS T6. I suspect she’ll drop SL. Minimal points; conserve energy. Between many vertical kilometers on her legs, persistently keen peer competition, and eager young’uns, I think Brignone’s reached her EOS ranking peak. Another small globe would be a triumph. I’ll gnaw rust from the skates if she gets one.

Sofia Goggia

WAWC’s most exciting racer. (Not just IMO, I’m positive.) Flat out every DH start; solid SG, practiced within Reason’s boundary. Per Feature – Seven Principals: “Very appealing extroverted public persona—ebullient, assertive; confident but not vain. Can be self-effacing, as is any kind soul.” Injuries on par with Lindsey Vonn. (Two fewer knee injuries, and Vonn would have 95+/- victories.) See Sofia’s Wikipedia page for eight significant mishaps, including one returning to the hotel after practice! She’s sound now, and shall remain so. One of international sport’s most engaging personalities. Fantastic post-career potential/options. I’d suggest woodshedding piano for a couple of years—jazz probably best option—assemble a band and hit the road as Sofie’s Pedroni. She’d be a fantastic US media guest for WAWC PR from European perspective. (I keep thinking Europe’s ski racers care about North American opinion re their sport. Do they? The top ones don’t need to financially. But I bet a charismatic middling talent could exploit Yankee commerce for a few years.)

2021-2023 EOS Overall and DH, SG, GS.

2023 5th Dropped GS, I’m sure permanently.

DH 1st – 9 starts – 5x1st; 3x2nd; DNF. Insanely good score card.

SG 11th – 6 starts – 4th; 2x5th; 7th; 2xDNF. SG’s technical demands may be a bit much for Goggia’s relentless attack. I imagine she’s practicing SG a lot this summer. It’s her ticket to Overall contention.

2022 6th

DH 1st – 8 starts – 4x1st; 3d; 2x12th; DNF

SG 5th – 6 starts – 2x1st; 2nd; 6th; 19th; DNF

GS 35th – 5 starts – 12th; 16th; 2xDNF; DNQ

2021 9th Late January knee injury OFS. Shame—scorching DH start.

DH 1st – 5 starts – 4x1st; 2nd

SG 18th – 4 starts – 4th; 7th; DNF; DSQ

GS 13th – 6 starts – 6th; 2x7th; 9th; 15th; 18th Very fine GS season. (2017 EOS 3d Overall & GS)

What a run. DH 13x1st from 22 starts.

Goggia wants more gold. No question she’ll compete through 2026, looking for Olympic win to complement 2025 Worlds victory. Only a fool would bet against her 2024 EOS DH 1st. Sofia’s running in an epic groove. (If a groove may be so.) “Force of nature” is as apropos as is her creed “Only the brave.” I, however, think Ilka Stuhec is even money to pull off a great late-career injury-recovery DH globe. If Corinne Suter drops GS for good, eliminates a few DH mistakes and finishes every race, she’s a toss-up for 1st place as well. So, I’ll say Goggia doesn’t get a 4th consecutive EOS DH 1st. She’ll podium, for sure.

I won’t put much money on this; Sofia’s recent history and iron will are against me.

Stuhec’s 2024 Downhill season is writ in the stars, I think.


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