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Federica Brignone, when perfectionism meets dedication

Ski champion and multi-tasking athlete. From the sea to the mountains, there are no sports that Federica Brignone has not practised. She is driven by perfectionism and dedication: “At 100 kilometres an hour on a pair of skis, you can’t afford to lose control.” 

Home road Federica Brignone, when perfectionism meets dedication
Federica Brignone, when perfectionism meets dedication

Federica Brignone is an omnivorous sportswoman. She has practised them all and it was not until she turned nineteen standing on the podium of a World Cup race that she understood that skiing would be her full-time occupation if not her favourite sport. Because still today, like when she was younger, she is passionate about more than one game. As soon as she gets off her skis, she throws herself headfirst into another discipline that she loves as much as skiing, driven by the appetite that makes the people like her simply unable to stay still. Her latest obsessions are hip-hop and Jamaican dancing. Playing sports for her also means immersing herself in nature and that is where Federica Brignone feels most at home. 

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How did your love for skiing start?

It started at home. My dad is a ski instructor and my mum is a former skier. For their work, I was always in contact with the snow. I was one and a half years old they put a pair of plastic skis on my feet.

And you never stopped since?

Actually, I didn’t have a clear idea because I’ve always played a lot of sports and I liked them all. What’s more, I never entertained the idea of becoming a champion. I only played sports because I liked them. They were fun. I love sports. I’ve done gymnastics, skating and athletics. But also climbing, tennis, golf and all the water sports. The seasons, winter and summer, suggested the best way to have fun. And it is still so today.

When did you pick skiing?

I realised that skiing was the right sport when I was 15 and won the Italian Championship, although the real awareness came in 2010, which was the year I first made it onto the podium of a World Cup race. I finished third in the giant slalom in Aspen.

What was your greatest success?

I will never forget it. It was at Plan de Corones in 2017. The year before, I had dominated the giant slalom scoreboard with five podiums. I was stuck and I couldn’t express myself to my best. I was always lagging behind in the second heat and I was out of the first group of merit. Then came that victory with incredible tension and a sense of infinite liberation. The perfect race, however, was in Aspen, later that year. I had the best time in the first and second heat.

What was the most difficult moment of your career? And how did you overcome it?

There have been many difficult moments. The worst was five years ago when I missed the previous season due to an injury. I was always in bad shape; I couldn’t fit my boots properly. I had problems all the time and I thought I would stop because I wasn’t having fun anymore. Instead, I managed to get up and got my first World Cup victory in Solden (2015), followed by another win and six podiums.

World Cup, World Championship and the Olympics. What do they mean for you?

The World Cup is the closing of the circle. It is the ultimate goal for which we all strive, while World Championship and the Olympics are one-off competitions. The first is a stage race. You need presence and consistency. The other two admit only one result and the podium is only for the first three.

What are your next objectives?

For the moment, I’m just thinking about skiing, keeping my concentration high. I always try to push as hard as I can to win wherever I can. That is the only way I can get satisfaction out of it. I never settle for anything. I tackle everything at the top. I’m a perfectionist. Of course, I’d love to win the La Thuile race. It’s my home turf.

How do you train?

In winter, I wake up and go skiing. The afternoons are devoted to athletics, as a sort of maintenance training, for up to two hours. In the summer, training is tougher and I cannot wait to get back to skiing. I train every day in the morning and in the afternoon. I work on strengthening and circuits, legs, arms, endurance, balance and a bit of downhill cycling. This year, however, I added a particular kind of training. I love dancing and so on Wednesdays, I added hip-hop and Jamaican dance classes to my routine. When I am by the sea, there is no shortage of water sports, particularly surfing.

Are you always seeking the balance between power and control?

Power and control mean everything to us athletes. We always strive to go beyond the limit, to always raise the bar without losing the ability to control what we are doing. Skiers slide on two strips of wood at 100 kilometres per hour and little or no protection. You always have to be focused and in full control of yourself.

What kind of diet do you follow?

My family imparted a very healthy food education. We very seldom went out to eat and there were no takeaways. I have set some rules with a nutritionist although I like eating a bit of everything. I love ice cream. I even eat one a day. I even created my own flavour: yoghurt with a dark chocolate swirl, pistachio crisp and raspberry coulis.

You are a great skier but you enjoy a great relationship with water and nature. 

When I was a child, I was more in the water than on the snow. I think I am comfortable where I can slide, surfing on waves and alpine skiing on fresh snow alike. Being in touch with nature, in the open air, makes me feel alive. This is why I joined the “Traiettorie Liquide” (“Liquid Trajectories”) environmental sustainability project with the goal of raising public awareness on marine pollution. Sea conditions are changing. This is the age of consequences. It is not only about having a clean sea but concerns having a balanced ecosystem.

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