Robert Antonioli, portrait of a champion
A tête-à-tête with the winner of the 2019 ski mountaineering World Cup
Robert Antonioli wins the 2019 World Cup. Thanks to taking second place in the vertical race of Madonna di Campiglio, he secured his place at the top of the overall ranking of men’s ski mountaineering with an advance race. This marks the second Crystal Ball for the SCARPA® athlete of the Army Sports Centre, after the one he won in 2017. Our athlete’s season has been packed with successes: Robert is also the reigning World Champion, thanks to the success he achieved at the World Championships in Villars, Switzerland, which were held in March.
A truly triumphal season, Robert - but what was the best moment for you? And the toughest one?
Yeah, it was definitely a triumphal season, one of the most beautiful moments was undoubtedly the week of the World Championship in Villars: the moment when I was at my absolute peak physical and mental shape. Both the individual race and the relay were incredible victories. The most difficult moment for me comes when the season starting turning towards spring and the flowers start blooming in the meadows: keeping your concentration is also difficult because you can’t keep going higher up to chase the last of winter, it becomes too physically exhausting. You have to stay at the bottom and look for the snow so as not to affect your performance in view of the World Cup.
Your second Crystal Ball. Was that your goal at the start of the season, even in light of how the last one ended? How do you feel being able to lift the Cup once more?
After the World Cup, the aim was definitely to be able to lift the Crystal Ball once again. Remembering how I behaved last year, with not much training on my legs, I knew that I could raise the bar this season, and as we saw, it went as well as it could. Being able to hold the general and individual Crystal Ball up high is always exciting, an emotion that I’d love to experience again! Keep trying until you get there!
How did your Alien 3.0 behave during the season? Are you satisfied with the support that the company gave you over the course of this year, too?
The Alien 3.0 boot was my adventuring companion once again this season, and I also had the opportunity to try out new technical solutions which proved to be very advantageous compared to the previous ones.
The Alien 3.0 has become a super boot for carving out some beautiful lines downhill, to be sure that you have a boot on your feet that gives you the safety you need, making you free to force those descents. The SCARPA® team was there for me throughout the race season and gave me all the support I needed. A few adjustments need to be made to the equipment during the season and they were incredible at their job.
What are the values that you share with SCARPA®?
The slogan of SCARPA®, “No place too far”, is certainly one of the values that I share. Having something comfortable and light on your feet makes everything easier.
Now let’s talk about ski mountaineering more generally. What kind of impact do you think this sport has in the world of winter sports? What prospective does this sport have in your opinion?
Ski mountaineering has a key role in snow disciplines. The number of enthusiasts who get into our sport is constantly increasing. I hope that the interest in this sport and its drawing ever closer to becoming part of the Olympics will cause it to grow, both amongst enthusiasts and amongst athletes.
How does a ski mountaineer interpret the mountain?
The ski mountaineer interprets the mountain just like any other visitor who cares about the environment around them: they don’t leave any sign that they were there, have a green spirit, and they definitely have a deep respect for the places they go. I feel a certain sense of melancholy in summer when I notice that the glaciers have receded, and I always hope for winter seasons with plenty of precipitation.
From a mental point of view, is it more tiring to go uphill or downhill? What about from a physical point of view?
Uphill and downhill are our bread and butter. You have to train for both of them to be at your peak in any situation. Physically, in terms of your muscles, they’re both horrible on the body: you never have a moment to pause and recover. Mentally, I find that the climbs are more demanding - in fact, during a race I always say to myself over and over again “Lord, give me a hand getting to the top, then I’ll do the rest.” At a high level, going both uphill and downhill, you are at maximum concentration: if you lose concentration going uphill, you lose the spark in your step, and if you lose it going downhill, you risk hurting yourself really badly.
What kind of preparation do you need to do for a season of competitive ski mountaineering?
A ski mountaineer’s preparation can vary greatly: I ski for as long as I can, last year I only hung up my skis on 19 June. Then you start with the dry preparation: walking, running, cycling, mountain biking, roller skiing, climbing, gym work and a few parties here and there never hurt anyone! We can vary a lot, it is definitely not a monotonous sport. And every athlete interprets their preparation in their own personal way.
Robert Antonioli is one of the crown jewels of SCARPA’s® athletes, faithful to the brand since he competed in the Cadet category of competitive ski mountaineering. His advice and precious contributions have always been key to developing our ski mountaineering products and making them the best they can be.
No place too far, with Scarpa! See you again soon, Robert!
foto: Maurizio Torri, Riccardo Selvatico