Big Air Milan: Bertagna leads Italian freeskiers’s charge

Italy’s queen of freestyle, overall second in 2016/2017 FIS World Cup, comes back to racing in Milan after a knee surgery: “I’ll compete without pressure, in the extraordinary setting of the EXPerience Park, with my sights set on the Olympics”

Alberto Maffei’s performance with the seventh final place in the snowboard event (Italy’s best placement in a Big Air competition since 13 years) lit up the Italian public at the EXPerience Park in Milan last Saturday – November 11th. Now the home fans are ready to cheer for the Freeski champions, on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th November.

The Italian National Team will line up with seven athletes: five men – Igor Lastei, Kilian Morone, Christof Schenk, Ralph Welponer and Jonas Seiwald – and two women – youngster Elisa Maria Nakab, and veteran Silvia Bertagna, the star of Italian freestyle skiing and the most expected local athlete under the Tree of Life.

The 30-year-old (she will turn 31 on November 30th) from Ortisei (Bolzano, Italy), Silvia had a breakout season last year in the Big Air specialty, claiming an historical win in Moenchengladbach (Germany) and two more podium spots in Myrkdalen-Voss (Norway) to end up overall second in the Big Air’s World Cup behind Swede Emma Dahlstrom. Milan’s stage means a lot to her, even more as it will represent her return to competitions after a knee surgery. “I tore my cruciate ligament in April – explains Silvia, who is currently training in Stubai with the Italian team –, the recovery went well and now I am eager to race again, although I’ve been skiing for two weeks only. I’ll compete without pressure and I hope that Milan will bring me good luck again”.

In 2016, the blonde freeskier grazed the podium (fourth) in her career’s first Big Air World Cup race. This year, there’s one more reason for her to start the season in the right way: “I want to recover completely and regain confidence with jumps and tricks. My goal is to achieve the qualifications for the Olympic Games and take part in PyeongChang’s slopestyle event (she ended up eighth at 2014 Sochi, ndr). But also performing well in the World Cup is extremely important”.

There will be plenty of fierce rivals at Silvia’s seasonal debut: from Swiss Sarah Hoefflin and Giulia Tanno to Norwegian Johanne Killi and Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen: “The level will be very high, but the Italian team is ready and competitive both in the men’s and women’s categories. We will enjoy an exciting contest for sure”.

When she is not performing her breathtaking stunts, Silvia loves to go hiking in Val Gardena mountains, and she works in her mother’s clothing store too. Silvia says that she isn’t fond of fashion, but Milan – the World’s capital of pret-à-porter – still has a special charm for her: “Racing in this city is special because of the enthusiasm of fans and friends. From the top of the ramp, with the Tree of Life illuminated, Milan is simply enchanting: one of the most beautiful sceneries”.

The unique setting of the EXPerience Park is getting ready for another weekend full of emotions, with the Freeski’s stars lighting up Milan’s night.