At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Maurizio Margaglio - ice dancer

Multiple champion remembered for famous fall


Maurizio Margaglio began skating when he was 10
Maurizio Margaglio began
skating when he was 10
The ice dancer Maurizio Margaglio, who enjoyed a prolifically successful partnership with Barbara Fusar-Poli from the mid-1990s to the early part of the new century, was born on this day in 1974 in Milan.

Margaglio and Fusar-Poli were national champions of Italy nine times and in 2001 they became the first Italian pair to become World champions, winning in Vancouver ahead of the defending champions Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat of France.  They were European champions the same year, during a remarkable season in which they won every event they entered.

Yet they never won an Olympic title in three attempts, and as well as their successes they are remembered as much for the calamity that befell them at their home Olympics in Turin in 2006.

The moment that Margoglio and Fusar-Poli crashed to the ice in Turin
The moment that Margoglio and Fusar-Poli
crashed to the ice in Turin
In their first appearance in international competition for four years, Margaglio and Fusar-Poli were in the gold medal position, leading by a full half-point over the Russian favourites and two-time World champions, Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomorav, after the opening compulsory dance section of the competition.
Yet just seconds away from potentially consolidating their lead in the original dance section, disaster struck.  Performing a rotational lift, Margaglio lost his balance, dropped Fusar-Poli, and fell to the ice himself.

After a bronze medal in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, when another fall possibly cost them gold, it was history repeating itself in a cruel way.

What followed became one of the talking points of the Games and the images appeared in newspapers around the world. The couple scrambled to their feet, but instead of bowing to the judges and acknowledging the crowd, as is customary, the two stood facing each other, almost motionless, for a full 30 seconds, Fusar-Poli fixing Margaglio with stare so intense that one commentator was moved to suggest that “if she had had a pistol, she would have shot him immediately”.

Barbara Funar-Poli was so dismayed at their fall she fixed Margaglio with a long, unflickering stare
Barbara Funar-Poli was so dismayed at their fall she
fixed Margaglio with a long, unflickering stare
Afterwards, Fusar-Poli was pictured with her head in her hands, sobbing, as the scores were revealed, although when they completed the competition in the free dance the following day they appeared to have been reconciled.  They warmed up at opposite ends of the rink, but at the end of their routine, which they performed impressively and without mishap and which pushed them up to sixth in the final reckoning, they embraced and kissed one another.

Funar-Poli later said that she was not angry with her partner so much as deeply disappointed that an accident has denied them an opportunity for the second Olympics in a row, especially in their home country.

Margaglio now works as a coach, largely in Finland
Margaglio now works as a coach,
largely in Finland
The son of an accountant, Margaglio did not skate until he was 10, after he brought home a flyer from school advertising classes and was encouraged by his parents to have a go. He was naturally athletic, excelling at a number of sports, including soccer, swimming, tennis and volleyball, and took to skating easily.

He was soon winning ice dancing competitions and in 1990 he began working with Paola Mezzadri, who was also Funar-Poli’s coach. She paired the two up for the first time in 1994.

Margaglio has a home in Courmayeur, in the Aosta Valley, but since 2011 has spent a good deal of his time in Finland, where he has been head of that country’s ice dancing development programme.  He is married to German figure skater Jyrina Lorenz, with whom he had three sons, Gabriel, Sebastian and Julian.

The Mediolanum Forum is just 12km from Milan
The Mediolanum Forum is just 12km from Milan
Travel tip:

Milan’s major ice skating facility is the Mediolanum Forum located in Assago, about 12km (7.5 miles) southwest of the city. The 12,700-seat sports arena, which is primarily a venue for ice hockey, basketball, tennis and live concerts, also offers accomplished skaters the opportunity to practice on the rink, as well as lessons for beginners and others who want to improve their skills. Assago is also home to the Italian headquarters of the multinational food and drinks company NestlĂ©.

The alpine landscapes around Courmayeur offer extraordinarily spectacular views
The alpine landscapes around Courmayeur offer
extraordinarily spectacular views
Travel tip:

Courmayeur is one of the most beautiful of Italian alpine towns.  Situated at the foot of the southern side of Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco in Italian), at an elevation of 1,224 m (4,016 ft) above sea level, it is charming town of cobbled streets in which high-end boutiques rub shoulders with ancient churches, historic bars and contemporary ski lodges, with a backdrop of majestic, unadulterated mountain landscapes.  The area is popular with hikers during the summer and, of course, skiers during the winter, attracted to slopes with some of the best views in Italy and by the town's reputation as a magnet for the rich and famous.

More reading:

Alberto Tomba - Italy's greatest skier

Deborah Compagnoni's three Olympic titles

How a fighter pilot won Italy's first Olympic bobsleigh gold

Also on this day:

1625: The death of Renaissance painter Sofonisba Anguissola

1892: The birth of racing driver Tazio Nuvolari

1975: The beatification of doctor and scientist Giuseppe Moscati


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