Sofia Goggia exclusive: "My daring skiing is like a piano sonata"

The reigning Olympic downhill champion discusses her love of reading and shares her goals for the World Cup season and Beijing 2022 in an exclusive interview with Olympics.com.

By Michele Weiss
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Olympic downhill champion Sofia Goggia is ready for the first two World Cup downhill events of the new season that will be held in Lake Louise, Canada, from 3-4 December.

Goggia, 29, is coming off an impressive season that saw her win four downhill races en route to winning her second World Cup. With 32 podium finishes and 11 wins, the native of Bergamo is now within range of matching Isolde Kostner, the most successful Italian downhill skier in World Cup history (Kostner achieved 51 podium finishes and 15 race wins in her career).

Goggia starts the new season with a big goal in mind: to win her second Olympic gold medal in the downhill competition at Beijing 2022. But first, she has to chase a few more victories on the most prestigious European slopes on the World Cup circuit, including Cortina - her favourite - Crans-Montana, where she has won three times in her career, and the "Kandahar" of Garmisch, which represents, among other things, the last crucial stage of her preparation before the Beijing Games.

Goggia sat down to discuss her goals and more in an exclusive interview with Olympics.com, which has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

A strong team is important to reach the highest level

Olympics.com (OC): Alongside Marta Bassino and Federica Brignone, you represent the strongest Italian women's team in history. How does it feel to be a part of such a skilled squad?

Sofia Goggia (SG): I have to say that if I am a winning skier today it is thanks to them. And it's true, we are a really strong team even if we are totally different individuals, but we pull each other along. Marta is four years younger than me, but in 2016 we entered the World Cup together; in fact we even had the same skiman who fixed our skis despite having different materials. So we have a special bond. Federica on the other hand was already almost a veteran because she had already completed several seasons.

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OC: Did Federica Brignone help you as well?

SG: I am grateful to both of my teammates and especially Federica for giving me so much, including the incentive to pull out that something more that has made me, in part, the Sofia Goggia of today.

OC: On that point, you recently said that you are like ‘an electric guitar’ while Bassino is like a ‘violin'. Can we also find an instrument for Federica Brignone?

SG: I think she could be a flute because she skis with a certain continuity, and in flute the notes are separated but are also all very united and harmonious.

OC: Is there a quality you wish you could steal from your teammates?

SG: I would steal Marta's centrality because she always manages to stay on top of her skis with a perfect centre of gravity. From Federica I would take how good she is with her feet on the slopes; I don’t think there’s anyone else like her.

OC: With the new format of the World Cup this season which appears to favour speed masters, do you have your eyes set on winning the Overall Crystal Globe?

SG: I’ve only given it [winning the Overall Crystal Globe] a slight thought; I prefer to go forward step by step. Dreaming big is ok; it doesn't cost anything... but if you want to build a house you need many bricks that have to be put one after the other - the big result only comes at the end.

OC: With Beijing 2022 quickly approaching, you may be aware that German legend Katja Seizinger is the only person to have won two downhill consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games. Does the opportunity to match her achievement inspire you?

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SG: I see, so does that mean that I might be only the second [athlete] to do it? Well then, let's give it a try!

OC: Last January, just after your most recent injury in Garmisch, you launched your new motto: "Only the brave.” Have you since added a new one?

SG: Yes: "Brave and Bold.” I really like this English term, "bold". Eurosport UK called me "the bravest and the boldest”. It’s a great honour but let’s see if I can really be brave and bold.

“My skiing is like a piano sonata”

OC: What’s your favourite World Cup stage?

SG: My favourite slope is Cortina d'Ampezzo, but I've always loved to win and bring out my potential on those slopes in Austria that bear the name of great downhill skiers, such as Franz Klammer’s slope and Karl Schranz’s slope.

OC: And then you have to close the season out at Garmisch.

SG: It's true, Garmisch is a special stage; it almost seems like fate because that slope has given me so many memories, but also two injuries. The injury I suffered in January, before the World Championships at home, was very tough. But in the end, it’s not the slope’s fault when you get hurt; it's always something inside you that makes you do certain things, maybe even on a subconscious level. And winning in Garmisch is one of my dreams - I can’t deny it!

OC: You’re well known for being well-read; is there anything you’re reading right now?

SG: Is that so? Well, I used to read more when I had time. The Mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, gave me Philip Roth’s American Pastoral in Lausanne during Milano Cortina’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. After finishing it, I almost had to go to a psychiatrist! (laughs).

OC: Are you aware that when you talk about your skiing you often use musical or artistic metaphors?

SG: Yes, I think metaphors do a good job of conceptualising the concept that a person has in mind. However, if I think about it, I don't feel so much like an electric guitar... in the end, I feel more like a piano!

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