If the Dolomites are a world heritage, they are a heritage of the Dolomites. We are talking about Giacomo Bertagnolli and Fabrizio Casal, the two nineteen-year-olds from Val di Fiemme who won four skiing medals, two gold, one silver and one bronze, at the last Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Giacomo is visually impaired but he hurtles down the pistes with a confidence that comes from a love of the sport that was obvious right from his earliest years. He is of course also helped by the precise information passed to him by his friend and guide Fabrizio Casal. They both attend the high school Istituto La Rosa Bianca in Cavalese, whose students all got up at the crack of dawn to watch the races live. This is where we met them, during their short break on their first day back at school after such a long and more than justified absence due to their participation in the Winter Paralympic Games.
FOUR LIFE-CHANGING MEDALS
In a couple of months they will be taking the school-leaving exam and so soon after winning those medals the burning question has to be faced about how to reconcile study with competitive sports activities at such a high level.
Giacomo points to his friend and smiles: “Well he’s got a test today! We know we should see the latter job through to its end, then we can say that we did what we had to”.
Of course life has changed: “We thought we’d just get back to normal on our return from South Korea” adds Fabrizio. But what happened? Our new celebrity status comes at a price with things to do all over Italy, interviews, personal appearances, awards…
TWO CHAMPIONS BORN AND BRED IN THE DOLOMITES
The two boys have different personalities but the trust they have in each other is obvious.
What is their relationship with the Dolomites? Both of them started skiing on their home mountains and they show a clear awareness of the values of their homeland: “As soon as the school day was over we were whizzing down the pistes” says Fabrizio, remembering his childhood years. Giacomo’s life has also been wedded to Dolomite mountain sports, not just skiing, also cycling and Val di Fiemme offers infinite possibilities on this score.
“WE WILL PROMOTE THE VALUES OF OUR HOMELAND”
When it comes to their homeland, these two golden (and silver and bronze) boys already feel a certain responsibility: “We’ll do everything we can to use the popularity we have gained to promote our homeland and its values” asserts Fabrizio with conviction. Giacomo adds: “In our valley all disabilities are supported by the ski resorts and there are associations like Sportabili Predazzo, to which I belonged up to two years ago, that carries anyone who wants to try them up onto the pistes”.
We wish these two treasures of the UNESCO Dolomites the very best of luck for the future and for their school-leaving exam and we are quite sure that at this unforgettable time, they are the ones delivering a fine lesson in sports and humanity.