Italian ski team mourns Fanchini after 2 golds at worlds
MERIBEL, France (AP) — One moment, Marta Bassino was getting a gold medal draped around her neck. The next, she was being told that former teammate Elena Fanchini had died at the age of 37 from a tumor.
It’s been quite a swing in emotions for the Italian ski team at the world championships, where Federica Brignone won gold in combined on Monday followed by Bassino’s super-G victory two days later.
It was just after the medal ceremony when the team gathered for dinner Wednesday that the news about Fanchini’s death was relayed to the skiers.
“My heart wasn’t prepared to experience so many emotions,” Bassino wrote on Instagram.
Fanchini’s funeral in her hometown of Solato, near Brescia, will be held Saturday at the exact same time as the women’s downhill in Meribel — a race in which Sofia Goggia will be favored to earn Italy its third gold in as many women’s races.
Goggia and the other Italian racers wore black armbands during Thursday’s downhill training session.
“We all cried together when we heard the news,” Goggia said. “We’re going to put everything we’ve got into this race. Elena certainly would have wanted that. … We’re definitely going to give something extra during the downhill.”
Besides Goggia, who has won four of the six downhills this season, teammate Elena Curtoni is also a contender, having won a World Cup race in the discipline in December.
The Italian team is so strong that Nadia Delago, who won the bronze medal behind Goggia’s silver-medal performance at last year’s Beijing Olympics, did not make the squad for worlds. Her older sister, Nicol Delago, will compete in the downhill.
Goggia dedicated her downhill win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini, whose condition was worsening.
“Atop the course today in Meribel there wasn’t a single cloud but their was plenty of sorrow,” Goggia wrote on Instagram. “There’s a pulsating pain in our chests.”
Fanchini won a silver medal in downhill at the 2005 world championships and also won two World Cup races in her career — both in downhill.
“RIP Elena,” Lindsey Vonn, who finished fourth in that 2005 race at worlds, wrote in an Instagram story. “What a loss for the whole family and the skiing community.”
Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.
Added Mikaela Shiffrin, who took silver behind Bassino: “My condolences to the whole Fanchini Family, who have had such a strong and positive impact on our sport and our world with their passion and most importantly, always kindness.”
“My heart is also with the Italian team, who truly come across as a family to all of us watching, and who are hurting very deeply now,” Shiffrin wrote on Instagram. “We are sharing a hotel during this World Championships with the Italian team, and what I can tell you is that their love and strength is pure and true, and I am cheering for their entire team, now more than ever.”
Shiffrin, whose father died suddenly three years ago, added a black heart emoji to her post.
“Those who we have lost, will never be forgotten,” Shiffrin wrote.
The Inter Milan soccer team that Fanchini supported wrote on Twitter: “Dear Elena, we remember you with a smile, at the stadium with us or while you were skiing on your beloved mountains.”
Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf
More AP skiing: https://apnews.com/hub/skiing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports