In the run up to the Olympics, Universal Sports is doing a series of retrospectives. This week Joe Battaglia looks back at Italian Manuela DiCenta’s stormy career and great success at the Lillehammer Games. The article also includes a photo gallery of DiCenta from those games. If nothing else, the fashions of that era are worth checking out!
Olympic Time Capsule: Manuela DiCenta’s Medal Haul
by Joe Battaglia, Universal Sports
Manuela Di Centa experienced all the conceivable highs and lows during her 18 years as a member of the Italian national skiing team.
Born to a family of Nordic skiers, Di Centa was a cross-country skiing prodigy who made her national team debut in 1980 at the age of 17. Her rebellious nature and camera-friendly looks made her a regular in the local tabloids and newspapers.
But it was in 1984 that Di Centa made serious headlines when she quarreled with the head of the Italian Skiing Federation and was vociferous in denouncing the organization.
“They paid no attention to women,” Di Centa said in a 1994 Sports Illustrated interview. “We skied, but we were taught nothing. The world of cross-country skiing used unnatural systems-yes, blood doping [then legal] went on. I didn’t agree with these things so I quit.”
Di Centa stayed away for three years, and it wasn’t until the entire coaching staff of the Italian team was turned over in 1987 that she returned to the squad.
But a new drama soon began to play out.