Q=interviewer (Selina Vanier for ISU), A = Arianna Fontana
Q: You took some time off last season; can you tell us what you did during that time?
A: I wanted to take the whole year off, but I got some pressure from my Federation (Federazione Italiana Sport Del Ghiaccio) and my military group so I only got half the season off. So when I got back, I mainly supported the team to make sure that the girls’ team would qualify for the World Championships. That was my main focus. But now I am back and ready to go. The goal is the 2018 Olympic Games, so I’m focusing on that.
Q: did you do anything else during your time off?
A: Well I tried different sports, yoga I tried boxing, I did some spin classes. I tried to do different workouts to stay in shape and do something different to not always do the same thing and tried to have fun.
Q: Was your goal to break your routine? Or was your thinking at the time?
A: I was pretty tired mentally. My body was ready to race again but my mind was not. It was hard for me, after the Olympics in Sochi I had some doubts on whether to keep skating or not. Maybe it would have been better to take that year right after the Olympics off but I decided to keep going. It’s not that I regret it but I had some hard times that season. So I was like, it is better that I really take a step back so I can just focus on myself, my family and friends and spend some time with them. I don’t really have a lot of time stay with them. So it was really nice as I really needed that time with friends and family.
Q: How do you feel now that you are back? Are you ready to fight for the medals?
A: Yes! But I don’t have a lot of expectations right now because I pretty much didn’t skate in individual races last season. So actually (the first World Cup in Calgary) is my first race back. So I’m more like see how I feel, see how all the other girls do on the ice and try to get back into the race mood. Obviously I would be happy to win a Final and fight for a medal.
Q: How does the future look for you? You are aiming for the Olympics in 2018 and then you have any plans?
A: Well right now I’m focused on the next year and a half more or less. Then I will figure something out. I’m thinking about after, I’m just focusing on what I’m doing right now and not really thinking about anything else.
Q: What about the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Torino?
A: I’m really happy that Torino is hosting the European Championships. It is the second time that I will skate there for the European Champs, it will be great. Italy needs more of these events if they want more skaters so I hope that we will have a lot of people coming to cheer and support us. I’m sure I will have my family, my fan club and my friends and everyone there! So it will be a big thing for me.
Q: Isn’t your dad your biggest fan?
A: Yea I don’t know he just yells a lot. Obviously I don’t see him when I race but I always have people telling me what he says and what he does during the race. I remember when I won the 1500m in Moscow (in 2015) at the World Championships, I didn’t hear him at all, but three different people came to me and said that he was yelling “she’s on top of the world!” Something like that you know, and I was like yea that’s totally my dad.
Q: Do you find it helps to have your family there and your dad cheering for you, even if you can’t hear him?
A: Knowing that they are all there for me it’s really important. I feel more serene I guess, more relaxed. I don’t have to worry about anything. If it goes good or bad, they have my back. They are there for me and there’s nothing more important to me.
Q: The European Championships in Torino will take place in the same venue as the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. What memories will it bring back?
A: In Torino at the Olympics I was 15. I was still really young and had no idea what was going on. I was living my dream, racing at the Olympics in Italy! It was a really big thing for me. I realized what really happened a long time after. Right now when I think back, I see myself kind of on a holiday, having fun, taking a lot of pictures. I remember the first race it was a 500m and my legs were shaking. I’m glad that never happened again. But I was really nervous; I was there like “Oh my god I’m at the Olympics”. It was actually my first year with the team, I just got on the national team, I’m going to the Olympics and fighting for a medal. It was a lot. Like I said before, I understood what happened way after. Most of it was like a dream. It will be nice to skate again there and I’m sure I will live again those emotions. I’m kind of excited about it because when you grow up you lose some point of views and I hope I can find some of those again when I step in the venue.
Q: At 15 years and 314 days, you were the youngest Italian athlete to win a medal at the Olympics. Did your achievement influence Short Track in Italy?
A: After that, the media got a little more interested in Short Track and it grew a little. But a lot happened right after the Olympics. Me and the girls (on the team) went to Rome to see the President and received the Cavaliere della Repubblica (was Knighted). It’s a big thing, I was really proud and happy. Obviously my parents were there, they follow me everywhere if they can. Now I have Anthony (Lobello) my husband, he’s always with me if he can. That’s another support I have and I would never trade it for anyone.
Q: is there anything left on your check list to do?
A: Thinking about the Olympics, I thought I was going to win a gold medal in Sochi but I still don’t have that. That’s there up in my mind and sometimes it comes out and says “hey you still miss me? So come get me!”.
Q: Thank you very much for the interview and good luck for the rest of the season!