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Lara Colturi, good
blood does not
lie!

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MY “LIVE THE MOMENT”

Summer starts early, at the beginning of June, at Les Deux Alpes ski resort in France, the most popular with Italian ski clubs.

It’s time for the summer camps, a training centre created by Daniela Ceccarelli and the Golden Team ten years ago and that is now the most popular format for Italian and international athletes. 75 days of skiing managed by the Olympic champion and her family, who base themselves at Les Deux Alpes for three straight months.

The day starts very early for Daniela and Alessandro, as it is their job to groom the runs. Coaching then keeps them busy until 10 pm, what with video analysis, afternoon excursions and ski rooms. 

Their most zealous athletes are their own children, Lara and Yuri. Lara is blossoming as a skier thanks to her innate talent and an attitude that is almost predestined, considering she was already getting around World Cup finish areas with her small plastic skis when she was one, as she waited for her mum to cross the finish line.

Lara and Daniela share a special relationship, skiing and the mountains providing the context in which they communicate, express themselves and learn about each other.

A mother-daughter connection that is also a year-round relationship between athlete and coach, as mother Dany takes the lead when it comes to the technical management of training sessions and races, while dad Alessandro takes care of the organisational aspects, such as the development and setting of her skis and boots, the timing of trips, the studying of runs.

What’s it like to have your mum as your trainer 24 hours a day? It’s hard to say as it’s always been this way, so for me it’s normal. I trust in what she sees, we share a vision that focuses solely on the development pathway and process. Winning is always rewarding but we try to focus more on the experience and sometimes this is not just about skiing.

She, my mum, understands better than anyone else when it’s time to switch off.

I don’t mind the early starts, making 20,000 turns during two and half months of ice... The important thing is that each day makes for a different story and experience. So mum and dad find they have to change up the situation or technical task each time... otherwise, if I start to get bored, to ‘check out’ as mum calls it, I lose that creative vision that motivates me to seek out new challenges. Sometimes skiing is not enough, and I feel I want to develop new skills, doing other things like artistic skating, a sport in which I’ve trained and competed since I was five, or other activities like skateboarding, beach volley, roller blading, or cycling, where I’m a complete beginner and so the challenge is less obvious.
It is this concept of the challenge that characterises the way in which Daniela and Lara tackle training and racing, a challenge that is about having fun while continuously pushing your limits.
This takes courage but also the right dose of lightheartedness, and I want to be sure that this is always part of my children’s professional pathway, Lara’s in particular, as at 15 she is increasingly aware in the way she approaches competition. She is totally different to me, always sunny, never worried, and I want her to continue to be like this even when things get more serious. It wasn't easy to manage the pressure last season with that run of twenty wins. Sometimes, particularly in the international finals at Alpe Cimbra, I’ve seen her looking a little anxious and so I’ve tried to break that dangerous worry cycle, which affected me on too many occasions throughout my sporting career, especially after the Olympic win, by getting her to do something crazy and unexpected minutes before the start. Once we threw ourselves into a choreography set to music, a series of exchanges and combinations that require a certain synchronisation between me and her, in terms of reading the environment and getting the rhythm just right. We had so much fun and risked arriving late for the start, but it helped us both to remember that, deep down, this is a game and that what’s really at stake is just us, and our desire to put ourselves to the test.
A typical day for Lara and Daniela is all about routine that’s for sure, as they rise early, warm up before they start, make corrections, do gymnastics in the afternoon... but Lara’s smile makes it all seem more lighthearted.
Lara’s inseparable Australian Shepherd Bailey keeps her company when it’s still dark out and makes those tough early wake-up calls a little easier. In the silence of the home, when everyone else in the chalet is fast asleep, Lara does her breathing exercises. “It’s something I’ve been doing for years, thanks to a collaboration with Biotekna, a High-Performance Centre that monitors my mental and physical balance. It’s a chemical thing - how I breathe, what I eat, my circadian rhythms... it all conditions my mood, my emotions, and to have control you must first gain awareness.”
For Lara, the “live the moment” slogan is a real philosophy by which to live. When asked what she sees herself doing when she’s older, she shrugs and says she has no idea. For now, skiing is the universe in which she is finding herself but it is also the world in which she shares experiences with her Golden Team companions.
Daniela: “We wanted our children to experience the team environment and learn to interact with people their age in a normal context... There’s time for the private team and the beauty of Lara is her being part of the group, whether training on the slopes or the dry. This decision also removes a lot of pressure, because our attention is of course divided between 65 athletes and this makes it all more enjoyable and educational.”
It’s the same for Lara, “I wouldn’t do it without my team-mates, although skiing is a way for me to continuously meet people in new places. I’ve really missed travelling over the past year, but luckily our American and English friends were back for our summer camps, like a breath of fresh air. I can’t wait to be back in the US for our regular autumn training as I left my heart in Copper Mountain... My first visit to the Rocky Mountains, my first 40 metre jump, and my first broken arm after skating the ramps at Woodworld, the massive acrobatic centre for skaters and snowboarders.”

So not only turns but, above all, experiences. The hardest task for Lara and Daniela is to turn the routine, the method, the technique and the schedule into simple actions that punctuate the hours and methods of this family adventure, one of little daily challenges, whispered words at the start line and... lightheartedness.