For Italy's Francesca Lollobrigida being in the Bubble in Heerenveen meant far more than just being able to compete again. "We came here to prove that even Italy can be here after such a difficult time," she said. "We were finally able to skate in the same conditions as all the others." You can watch her journey in the Bubble in This is #UpAgain A Speed Skating documentary.
Italy was one of the most affected countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, after the virus hit the country at the end of January 2020. "I forgot how many months or days we were in lockdown," Lollobrigida said.
"We could only go for a run outside so it was pretty tough. It was sad because on social media we saw the skaters from Norway, the United States and the Netherlands training. When we were in lockdown, they were out on their bikes or could even skate."
The 30-year-old Italian Speed Skater struggled to stay positive and focused on her goals, she admitted.
"Last year I didn't even have motivation. I had to train, just because it's my work. But it was not because I had fun or it made me happy. It was hard."
Francesca Lollobrigida (ITA) at the ISU World Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen (NED) 2021©International Skating Union (ISU)
Without competitions, Lollobrigida felt she was putting in all the hard work for no reason. She, like all skaters around the world, wasn't able to show the world what she trained for.
Until January 2021, when the ISU organized a Speed Skating Bubble in Heerenveen, Netherlands, consisting of the ISU European Speed Skating Championships, two World Cup events and the ISU World Speed Skating Championships.
"The Bubble life was perfect. It was an historic moment and I am happy that we went through this together. During the Bubble we could finally show the world that we are strong people," she said when speaking about the Speed Skating community.
Lollobrigida allowed a film crew to follow her during the Bubble event in Heerenveen and shared her experiences and adventures in This is #UpAgain: a Speed Skating documentary.
"Being part of the documentary gave me the possibility to share what I went through during the lockdown, how we trained at home. It hasn't been easy (for the past year and a half), but I think it's a nice story."
"I am proud of the fact that we were able to skate in the Bubble with the team," Lollobrigida referred to the Italian squad that competed in Heerenveen.
Francesca Lollobrigida (ITA) competes at the ISU World Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen (NED) 2021©International Skating Union (ISU)
Watch the four part documentary on ISU.ORG and Facebook ISU Speed Skating page. Subscribe to the ISU Newsletter to receive the latest information from the ISU and you can also subscribe to the Skating ISU YouTube Channel to receive notifications when live streams or new videos are published. Don’t forget to watch This is #UpAgain Shows and listen to the The Ice Skating Podcast, out every other week.
Highlights, clips, interviews, behind the scenes:
YouTube: ISU Skating