For as long as most can recall, the Austrians dominated the Nations Cup – a year-end award that tallies all performances by World Cup athletes throughout the season. For the past two decades, Italians spent their time hovering in second or third place at the end of the season. In the 2016-17 season, Italy came in second once again, but by a small margin of only 559 points. So, they’re closing in.

And on the ladies’ side, Italy surpassed the Austrians for the first time ever last season. The Italian women earned a total of 4911 points, nearly 1,000 points ahead of the Austrian women. Part of this was thanks to their incredibly strong giant slalom team. Four Italian women landed in the top 10 of the World Cup giant slalom rankings, led by Sofia Goggia in third, Federica Brignone in fourth, Marta Bassino in sixth, and Manuela Moelgg in ninth. In a final show of strength this season, they swept the giant slalom at World Cup Finals in Aspen.

“This is, I think, one of the best days of my life, being on the podium with these two girls and two Italians,” Brignone said after the sweep. “It was amazing. It was really, really, really fun. But I didn’t know they were in front actually. I didn’t know nothing. I just went down and skied for myself and gave my best and when I crossed the finish line, I saw that I was in front, but I didn’t see who was second or third at the beginning. And then, I just heard the speaker saying, ‘Oh, second place Goggia, third Bassino,’ and it was amazing.’”

Photo by GEPA pictures/ Daniel Goetzhaber

These ladies know a thing or two about what it takes to win. And their male counterparts in speed also had some incredible success last season. While they ended up fourth in the men’s Nations Cup behind Austria, France, and Norway, the men’s team didn’t leave World Cup Finals empty handed. Peter Fill walked away with the World Cup downhill globe while teammate Dominik Paris ended up in third place in the discipline standings. Manfred Moelgg skied to third place in the slalom standings. All three of those Italian men were in the top 10 in the 2016-17 overall standings.

Heading into the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, the Italians have named a strong national team that will attempt to bring home more World Cup wins and Olympic medals. Patrick Thaler is the oldest member of the 2017-18 national team, born in 1978, while Thomas Sala is the youngest man on the World Cup team, born in 1995.

Image Credit: GEPA/Daniel Goetzhaber

On the women’s side, World Junior giant slalom champion Laura Pirovano, born in 1997, has been named to the World Cup team alongside veteran Manuela Moelgg, born in 1983. In total, the Italian Ski Federation named 95 athletes – 45 men and 40 women – to represent the country. If the men can step up to the plate and women keep their momentum, the Italians could dethrone the Austrians for the first time in decades and win the all-around Nations Cup.

Full Italian men’s team roster is available here.
Full Italian women’s team roster is available here.

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Gabbi Hall
Digital Content Editor
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A California native, Gabbi moved to Vermont to ski on the NCAA circuit for St. Michael’s College, where she served as team captain and studied journalism. Before joining Ski Racing, she worked as a broadcast TV producer and social media manager in higher education. She can be reached via email at gabbi@skiracing.com
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