2009-2010 Nations Cup Ranking: 5th (4956 pts)
2010-2011 Nations Cup Ranking: 4th (6106 pts)
Men: 5th (2571 pts)
Women: 3rd (3535 pts)
2011/2012 World Cup Team
Pietro Piller Cottrer
Giorgio Di Centa
Virginia De Martin Topranin
What You May Have Missed Last Season
The Italian men’s sprint team emerged as a force in 2010-2011. With a few exeptions (Christian Zorzi, for one) the Italian men have never really been thought of as strong sprinters, probably because big names such as Pietro Piller Cottrer and Giorgio Di Centa qualify for sprints about as often as Petter Northug loses a sprint finish.
But Fulvio Scola stepped up his game significantly, Renato Pasini regained some of his former glory, and Federico Pellegrino did not disappoint in his first full World Cup season.
Scola was the biggest contributer, as the 29 year old who has never really made a splash on the circuit qualified for every sprint he competed in this winter – except the one at World Championships (missed peak, perhaps?). He finished 5th in the Sprint Cup rankings, and apparently likes running in one-piece suits.
Renato Pasini turned back the clock to 2009, and finished in the top 10 three times on his way to 9th in the Sprint Cup.
But it was young Pellegrino who punched his way onto the World Cup in style, winning qualification during the skate sprint in Davos, Switzerland, before ending his day last in the final. He qualified in the top 15 four other times, and also picked up his first career World Cup medal in Liberec, Czech Republic, after he tried to pull a fast one on Ola Vigen Hattestad and was taught a lesson by the elite Norwegian.
What You Need To Know for This Season
The Italian women’s team was gutted at the end of last season, and if it isn’t dead, it is now on life support. Arianna Follis pulled the plug after her best World Cup season ever, as did Marianna Longa, who might actually stay retired this time. Magda Genuin waited an extra month or so, but then followed her teammates rather than hang around for one more seaon.
It was the skiing of all three that pushed Italy from a second-tier nation into a battle with the Russians for a Nations Cup podium spot. The departure of sprinters Genuin and Follis, and distance heavyweight Longa will be extremely costly for the women’s program, and the Italians across the board.
While FasterSkier always likes a surprise, the chances of any of the Italian women having the kind of breakout campaign needed to replace the over 2600 World Cup points produced by their top three women last season is nil.
As a result, the Italian men must step up, or the country will drop in the Nations Cup ranking like skiers during Stage 3 of the 2010 Tour de Ski…
Italian hopes are pretty much centered on one man – Pellegrino. The sprint phenom who helped the country massively last season will be called on to do everything once again – generate excitement, score points, and probably wax skis as well.
But don’t be surprised if the men don’t start off the season in top shape. The Italians suffered from a brutal summer of injuries, as Pellegrino had shoulder surgery, Di Centa injured his thigh, Piller Cottrer fell off his bike and banged up his shoulder and hip, and Roland Clara got sick.
Who You Should Watch
FasterSkier knows that Silvia Rupil isn’t exactly a young gun in the pipeline, but here’s the deal – someone has to step up to replace the departed women, and Rupil is in the perfect position to do so.
She will be given all the opportunities possible to succeed; at 26 she is now one of the team leaders, she is entering just her third World Cup season, and we have seen flashes of elite ability, including two top tens and being a part of three World Cup medal winning relay teams last season.
If you speak Italian, check out this video, and let FasterSkier know how she’s progressing!