Showing posts with label Skiing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Skiing. Show all posts

14 January 2024

Leonardo Servadio - entrepreneur

Tailor from Perugia whose Ellesse brand found global success

The Ellesse logo came to symbolise the style and quality associated with the brand's range
The Ellesse logo came to symbolise the style and
quality associated with the brand's range 
The tailor and businessman Leonardo Servadio, who founded the Italian sportswear company Ellesse, was born on this day in 1925 in Perugia.

Ellesse - the name is taken from Servadio’s initials as they are spelled in the Italian alphabet, elle and esse - was a groundbreaker in its field, the first manufacturer to display its brand name on the outside of a garment.

Under Leonardo’s management, it grew to become one of the best known names in sportswear, particularly in the worlds of tennis and skiing, and acquired a glamorous image that enabled it to expand successfully into the leisurewear market.

Now owned by the Pentland Group, a British company with a large portfolio of sportswear brands, at its peak Ellesse sponsored tennis stars such as Chris Evert and Boris Becker, the skier Alberto Tomba and the racing driver Alain Prost, as well as the New York Cosmos football team.

Leonardo, whose parents owned a textile business in Perugia, became interested in making clothes as a young man. He learned tailoring skills at the age of 14 so that he could work in the family shop.

The brilliant Chris Evert was one of  the tennis greats signed up by Ellesse
The brilliant Chris Evert was one of 
the tennis greats signed up by Ellesse
In 1959, after 20 years working for his father, he struck out on his own, acquiring a workshop in the Pallotta suburb, before opening his first factory in Via Mario Angeloni, to the west of the city centre. Trading as L & S, his initial speciality was trousers, designed for everyday use but smartly cut. They were so popular it was not long before they became a bestselling line and Leonardo stepped up production to become the second largest trouser manufacturer in Italy.

The company grew, taking on more employees and Leonardo’s brother in law, Franco D’Attoma, who would later become president of the city’s football team, joined the company, taking charge of administrative matters to allow Leonardo to focus on design.

Setting his sights first on skiing, which had always been a passion, he produced high quality skiing trousers, to which he added a distinctive touch in the form of a penguin logo attached to the thighs, and the company name on the lower part of the leg, a marketing device that at the time was unique.

He ploughed his profits into acquiring a plot of land to the west of the city at Ellera di Corciano, where he built a modern factory and warehouse, which remains the company headquarters today. It was around this time that the Ellesse name was born and a decision was taken to sponsor the Italian national alpine skiing team, the brand’s profile receiving a massive boost when Gustav Thöni won the giant slalom world cup wearing the Ellesse name and logo.

A new type of ski garment, which was dubbed the jet pant and featured protective knee pads and a flared bottom worn outside the boot, brought the company further success before Leonardo turned his attention to his other major sporting love, tennis.

With individual and tournament sponsorship as its marketing drivers, Ellesse soon became one of the most visible names in tennis. The Italian number one male player, Corrado Barazzutti, was the first to sign a clothing contract, sporting a new logo, the now-familiar red-and-orange symbol, a semi-circle said to represent the top of a tennis ball bisected by two ski tips.

Leonardo Servadio was often seen at tennis tournaments
Leonardo Servadio was often
seen at tennis tournaments
When stars such as Wimbledon champions Chris Evert and Boris Becker joined the Ellesse stable, along with four-times Grand Slam winner Guillermo Vilas of Argentina, the brand had positioned itself as one of the world’s leading tennis wear manufacturers, further cementing its market status by sponsoring a series of international tournaments that became known as the Ellesse Women’s Circuit.

At the time Leonardo sold 90 per cent of the company’s shares to the Pentland Group in 1993, having already struck a deal with Reebok for the sale of Ellesse’s United States operations, the company had annual sales in excess of £80 billion and a workforce of more than 450 employees.

Although he retained an interest in Ellesse as company president, Leonardo devoted much of his time thereafter to projects closer to home.

He turned the large rooms with mediaeval vaults in the city centre that were once home to his father's business into the Caffè di Perugia, which became popular with local people and a great attraction for tourists, including a bar, restaurant and wine shop.

Leonardo Servadio died in Perugia in January 2012 at the age of 87.

The Fontana Maggiore at the heart of Perugia's main square, Piazza IV Novembre
The Fontana Maggiore at the heart of Perugia's
main square, Piazza IV Novembre
Travel tip:

Perugia, Leonardo Servadio’s home city and the capital of the Umbria region, is an ancient city that sits on a high hilltop midway between Rome and Florence. In Etruscan times it was one of the most powerful cities of the period.  It is also a university town with a long history, the University of Perugia having been founded in 1308.  The presence of the University for Foreigners and a number of smaller colleges gives Perugia a student population of more than 40,000.  The centre of the city, Piazza IV Novembre, has a mediaeval fountain, the Fontana Maggiore, which was sculpted by Nicolo and Giovanni Pisano.  The city’s imposing Basilica di San Domenico, built in the early 14th century also to designs by Giovanni Pisano, is the largest church in Umbria, with a distinctive 60m (197ft) bell tower and a 17th-century interior, designed by Carlo Maderno, lit by enormous stained-glass windows. The basilica contains the tomb of Pope Benedict XI, who died from poisoning in 1304.

A panorama over the skyline of Corciano, the beautiful town just outside Perugia
A panorama over the skyline of Corciano, the
beautiful town just outside Perugia
Travel tip:

Corciano, a beautiful town in Umbria of which Ellera di Corciano is a neighbouring village, can be found about 12km (7 miles) west of the city of Perugia. Surrounded by the mediaeval walls built in the 13th and 14th centuries, it is characterised by small streets and stairways and houses built in limestone and travertine, dominated by the . The village is dominated by a majestic castle, the Rocca Paolina, a monumental fortress built to a design by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger between 1540 and 1543. The town has an imposing gateway, the Porta Santa Maria, while the town's main church, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta contains an altarpiece painting of the Assumption of the Virgin by Pietro Vannucci, known as il Perugino. 

Also on this day:

1451: The birth of composer Franchino Gaffurio

1507: The birth of painter Luca Longhi

1552: The birth of lawyer Alberico Gentili

1883: The birth of fashion designer Nina Ricci

1919: The birth of politician Giulio Andreotti


1 December 2018

Eugenio Monti - bobsleigh champion

Olympic winner who was honoured for sportsmanship

Eugenio Monti won two Olympic medals at the age of 40 after previously being honoured for outstanding sportsmanship
Eugenio Monti won two Olympic medals at the age of 40
after previously being honoured for outstanding sportsmanship 
The double Olympic bobsleigh champion Eugenio Monti, who became the first athlete to be awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for sportsmanship, died on this day in 2003 in Belluno.

Monti was recognised with the award after the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck, during which he twice made gestures of selfless generosity towards opponents, both of which arguably cost him the chance of a gold medal.

The preeminent bobsleigh driver in the world going into the 1964 Games and an eight-time world champion in two and four-man events, Monti was desperate to add Olympic golds to his medal collection.

He had won silver in both his specialisations when Italy hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956 and was denied the opportunity to improve on that four years later when the 1960 Games at Squaw Valley in California went ahead with no bobsleigh events, due to the organisers running out of time and money to build a track.

Eugenio Monti and his brakeman in the two-man bob event at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo
Eugenio Monti and his brakeman in the two-man bob
event at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo
In Innsbruck, Monti and his brakeman Sergio Siorpaes were favourites in the two-man event,  After two runs on the first day, Britain’s Tony Nash and Robin Dixon led the field. On day two, however, the rear axle bolt on their sled sheared off.

They had no spare and would have had to forgo their second and final run of the day - and their chance at Olympic gold - if it weren’t for Monti’s extraordinary sportsmanship in offering to lend them the bolt from his sled. The British pair went on to record the fastest time on that final run and won gold by just 0.12 seconds. Italians Sergio Zardini and Romaro Bonagura took silver with Monti and Siorpaes claiming the bronze.

Four days later in the four-man event, Monti’s selflessness towards his fellow competitors shone through for a second time when the rear axle on the Canadian team’s sled was damaged. Monti sent the Italian team’s mechanics to repair it, with the consequence that the Canadian team won gold, with Monti having to settle for another bronze.

Eugenio Monti led the Italian quartet to a gold medal in the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble
Eugenio Monti led the Italian quartet to a gold
medal in the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble
Monti’s gestures were all the more remarkable given that he was 36 years old and had already suffered serious problems with his knees, arguably running out of time to achieve his Olympic dreams.

There was no more popular champion, then, in Grenoble four years later when a 40-year-old Monti won the gold medal in both the two-man and four-man events.

The two-man contest could not have been closer. At the start of the final run, West Germany I, piloted by Horst Floth, led by a tenth of a second from Monti’s Italy I sled. The Italians went first and broke the track record.

The German response was impressive – but they finished a tenth of a second slower. With both crews recording exactly the same cumulative time, gold went to Italy on the basis of producing the single fastest run.

With an Olympic gold at last in his pocket, Monti went into the four-man contest in buoyant mood and overcame difficult conditions to lead his team to more success. Again, the margin was tiny – less than 0.1secs over two runs – but Monti prevailed to win his second gold, and so became the first man to win both bobsleigh events at the same Winter Olympics.

Monti was made a Commendatore of the  Italian Republic in honour of his career
Monti was made a Commendatore of the
Italian Republic in honour of his career
It turned out to be the final race of his illustrious career. Immediately, he announced his retirement, having won six Olympic medals, nine world titles and the lasting respect of the Olympic family.

In addition, he was awarded Italy's highest civilian honor – Commendatore of the Italian Republic.

Born in 1928 in Toblach (Dobbiaco in Italian), a largely German-speaking municipality in the province of Bolzano in the South Tyrol area of Trentino-Alto Adige, Monti, was the best young Italian skier of his generation. He became known as il rosso volante - the Flying Redhead - and won national titles in slalom and giant slalom, but in 1951 an accident resulted in torn ligaments in both knees, which put paid to his alpine skiing career.

It was then that he switched to bobsleigh. In 1954 he won his first Italian championship and by 1957 was a world champion, going on to dominate the sport in Italy and be a force internationally for more than a decade.

After retirement, he was for a time the manager of the Italian bobsleigh team, while at the same time looking after the skiing facility he ran in Cortina d’Ampezzo, about 32km (20 miles) from Toblach, one of Italy’s major ski resorts and the host of the 1956 Winter Olympics.

Monti died on December 1, 2003 in rather sad circumstances, taking his own life to escape the suffering of Parkinson’s Disease.

Following his death, Olympic track at Cortina was renamed the Pista Olimpica di Bob - Eugenio Monti in his honour. The track was awarded the 2011 world championships

His name was also given to Turn 19 at Cesana Pariol - the bobsleigh track used for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

Cortina d'Ampezzo is a beautiful Alpine town with a huge draw for tourists
Cortina d'Ampezzo is a beautiful Alpine
town with a huge draw for tourists
Travel tip:

Cortina d'Ampezzo, often called simply Cortina, is a town in the southern Dolomites in the Veneto region. Situated in the valley of the Boite river,it is a winter sport resort known for its skiing trails, scenery, accommodation, shops and après-ski scene and remains popular with celebrities and European aristocracy. Austrian territory until 1918, it was traditionally a regional craft centre, making handmade products appreciated by early British and German holidaymakers as tourism emerged in the late 19th century. Today, the local economy thrives on tourism, particularly during the winter season, when the population of the town typically increases from about 7,000 to 40,000.  Although Cortina was unable to go ahead with the scheduled 1944 Winter Olympics because of World War II, it hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956 and subsequently a number of world winter-sports events. Several films have been shot in the town, mostly notably The Pink Panther (1963), For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Cliffhanger (1993).

Hotels in Cortina d'Ampezzo from TripAdvisor

The village of Toblach is in a beautiful valley in the  German-speaking South Tyrol area of northern Italy
The village of Toblach is in a beautiful valley in the
German-speaking South Tyrol area of northern Italy
Travel tip:

The small town of Toblach, or Dobbiaco in Italian, can be found about 100km (62 miles) northeast of Bolzano and a similar distance north of Belluno in the alpine valley of the Puster river, at an elevation of 1,241m (4,072 ft) above sea level.  The spectacular mountain peaks known as Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen are located nearby.  The area’s main claim to fame is that the composer Gustav Mahler was living in a tiny wood cabin in the pine forests close to Toblach, in the summers of 1908–10, when he composed his ninth symphony, the last he completed, and began work on his tenth symphony.

More reading:

How Lamberto della Costa became Italy's first Olympic bobsleigh champion

Why Alberto Tomba is Italy's greatest skier

The ex-prisoner of war who became Italy's first Olympic alpine skiing champion

Also on this day:

1455: Death of Florentine sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti

1958: The birth of distance runner Alberto Cova

1964: The birth of World Cup hero 'Toto' Schillaci


19 December 2017

Alberto Tomba – Italy’s greatest skier

Playboy showman who won three Olympic golds

Alberto Tomba (right) pictured with the  legendary Austrian skier Franz Klammer
Alberto Tomba (right) pictured with the
legendary Austrian skier Franz Klammer 
Italy’s greatest alpine ski racer, Alberto Tomba, was born on this day in 1966 in San Lazzaro di Savena, a town in Emilia-Romagna that now forms part of the metropolitan city of Bologna.

Tomba – popularly known as ‘Tomba la Bomba’ – won three Olympic gold medals, two World Championships and won no fewer than nine titles in thirteen World Cup seasons, between 1986 and 1998.

The only other Italian Alpine skiers with comparable records are Gustav Thoni, who won two Olympic golds and four World Championships in the 1970s, and Deborah Compagnoni, who won three golds at both the Olympics and the World Championships between 1992 and 1998.

Thoni would later be a member of Tomba’s coaching team.

Tomba had showmanship to match his talent on the slopes. Always eager to seek out the most chic nightclubs wherever he was competing, he would drive around the centre of Bologna in an open-topped Ferrari, flaunting both his wealth and his fame.

At his peak, he would arrive with his entourage in the exclusive ski resort at Aspen, Colorado to hold open house at his rented chalet on Buttermilk Mountain, with the rich and famous desperate to be invited.

At his peak, Tomba cultivated a glamorous image
At his peak, Tomba cultivated
a glamorous image
Never short of confidence when it came to the opposite sex, Tomba once famously asked the German skater Katarina Witt for a date just as she was coming off the ice as an Olympic champion at the Winter Games in Calgary in 1988 and partied the night away with the winner of a Miss Italia competition in which he was one of the judges.

He never let his appetite for a full social life take away his competitive edge, however.  Much as he was captivated with the glamorous Witt, he took the gold medals in both the slalom and the giant slalom at the same Games.

Tomba’s love for skiing came from his father, Franco, a successful businessman in the textiles industry. Bologna is a long way from the Alps, the background from which most skiing champions emerge, but Monte Cimone, the highest peak in the Apennines, was not too far away and Franco thought nothing of driving from their home to the slopes at Sestola, even though it could take two and half hours each way.

He would often take Alberto and his older brother Marco along with him and Alberto was a proficient skier from the age of three and competing by the time he was seven.  He took part in the Junior World Championships at the age of 17 and made his World Cup debut in 1985, three days before his 19th birthday.

Early in 1987 he won his first medal – bronze in the giant slalom – at the World Championships in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, and in November of the same year scored the first of his 50 World Cup race wins, in the slalom, and two days later the second, defeating his idol, Ingemar Stenmark, in the giant slalom.

Tomba's double Olympic gold at the 1988 Winter Games was commemorated on a postage stamp in Paraguay
Tomba's double Olympic gold at the 1988 Winter Games
was commemorated on a postage stamp in Paraguay
After a relatively lean couple of years, he returned to form to win his second World Championship giant slalom title in 1991 and in 1992 was almost unstoppable, clocking up nine World Cup wins to take the slalom and giant slalom titles, and winning his third Olympic gold, in the slalom, at the Albertville Games in France.

He was overall World Cup champion for the only time in his career in 1995, amassing 11 individual race wins, and in 1996 won double World Championship gold, taking the slalom and the giant slalom at Sierra Nevada in Spain.

Tomba retired at the end of the 1998 season, but not before notching the last of his 50 World Cup race wins at in the season finale at Crans-Montana, in doing so becoming the only male alpine skier to have won at least one World Cup race per year for 11 consecutive seasons.

In part, it was the constant attention that came with fame that caused him to quit at the age of 31.  On one occasion, his temper got the better of him and he threw his winner’s trophy at a photographer he had spotted from the podium, who he knew was responsible for picture of him naked in a sauna.

He had also broken up with his girlfriend, former Miss Italy Martina Colombari, because she found photographers and journalists were too intrusive.  He admitted too that, having won everything in his disciplines, the urge to compete was not quite as sharp as before.

Nowadays, Tomba lives his life at a slower pace, insisting he prefers a stimulating conversation over dinner and to drink wine with friends rather than to stay out until the early hours. He has never married and says any future bride would have to cook tagliatelle Bolognese as well as his mother.

He still skis, but not in places such as Sestriere in Italy, where he would still be recognised even in goggles and with a ski hat pulled down over his head.  Instead, he heads for Idaho or New Mexico.

At other times, he devotes his energy to the Laureus World Sports Academy and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, working to spread the positive influence of sport and to help young people learn respect, discipline and loyalty, to stay away from drugs, crime and hate and, through sport, to experience how people from different countries, of different colour or social class can be equals.

Unusual rock formations abound in the chalky landscape around San Lazzaro di Savena
Unusual rock formations abound in the chalky landscape
around San Lazzaro di Savena
Travel tip:

The town of San Lazzaro di Savena, where Tomba grew up – specifically in the Castel de Britti area – has grown from the one-time site of a leprosy isolation unit to a thriving municipal area of greater Bologna, its population having risen to more than 32,000 through industrial development and its expansion as a housing area for Bologna.  Situated only 6km (3.6 miles) from the centre of Bologna along the Via Appia, it is not far from the popular caving area of the Parco deo Gessi Bolognesi e Calanchi dell’Abbadessa.

A typically wintry scene in Sestriere
A typically wintry scene in Sestriere
Travel tip:

Sestriere, a village completely surrounded by mountains on the pass that links Val Chisone and Val Susa to the west of Turin and close to the French border, was developed as a ski resort in 1930s by Giovanni Agnelli, the FIAT founder. It has a number of hotels and ski lodges, including two landmark tower-block hotels that were the first buildings of the Agnelli development. The ski slopes, of which there are 146 accessible from the village, were one of the main venues in the 2006 Winter Olympics, have twice hosted the skiing World Championships and regular stage World Cup events.  In the winter months, the population of the area soars from less than 1,000 to more than 20,000.

4 June 2017

Deborah Compagnoni - Olympic skiing champion

Alpine ace won gold medals in 1992, 1994 and 1998

Deboragh Compagnoni on the podium after winning gold at Lillehammer in 1994
Deborah Compagnoni on the podium after
winning gold at Lillehammer in 1994
The three-times Olympic skiing champion Deborah Compagnoni was born on this day in 1970 in Bormio, northern Lombardy.

Regarded as the greatest Italian female skier of all-time, she won gold medals at the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics.

Despite suffering two serious cruciate ligament injuries, she also won multiple events at the Alpine Skiing World Cup between 1992 and 1998.

Born in Bormio but raised in Santa Caterina di Valfurva, in Valtellina, Compagnoni’s talent became obvious at a young age but she began suffering injuries also at an early age.

At just 16 years old she won the bronze medal in the downhill at the World junior championships in 1987, and the following year won the junior title in giant slalom and achieved her first podium in the World Cup.

However, shortly afterwards she broke her right knee at Val d'Isére downhill, the first of a number of major injuries, but for which she could have attained even greater success.

Compagnoni in downhill action
Compagnoni in downhill action
Compagnoni won her first race in the World Cup in 1992, in the super-G. She also won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics of the same year, again in the super-G, at Albertville in France. A day later, while racing the giant slalom, she shattered her left knee.

Nonetheless, she still achieved 16 race victories in World Cup events in addition to the giant slalom at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, a feat she repeated four years later in Nagano. In 1998 she won also a silver medal in the slalom, finishing second by only 0.06 seconds.

Her record is so impressive that she is considered the equal of Italy’s most decorated male skiers, such as Gustav Thöni and Alberto Tomba. The World Cup skiing track in her native Santa Caterina Valfurva has been named after her.

She is married to Alessandro Benetton, the son of Benetton co-founder Luciano Benetton.

Benetton is a winter sports coach and former chairman of the Benetton Group and of Benetton Formula One as well as one of the pioneers of private equity in Italy.

He and Compagnoni have three children - Agnese, Tobias and Luce. They live in Ponzano Veneto, about six kilometres ( 3.7 miles) north-west of Treviso and about 30km (19 miles) north of Venice.

The Villa Minelli in Ponzano Veneto
The Villa Minelli in Ponzano Veneto
Travel tip:

Ponzano Veneto is a community of some 12,500 residents that essentially brings together three villages. The area is known for its elegant villas, including the Villa Minelli, which has been the main headquarters of the Benetton Group since the 1980s, having been in the family since 1969. There are a number of churches containing works of art by Sebastiano Santi and Antonio Zanchi, while the Villa Corner has frescoes by Giovan Battista Tiepolo.

The mountain backdrop to Santa Caterina
The mountain backdrop to Santa Caterina
Travel tip:

Santa Caterina, where Compagnoni was brought up, is a ski resort in Valtellina, about 13km (8 milles) from Bornio in the northern part of Lombardy, less than 30km from the border with Switzerland. It is also the home town of Achille Compagnoni, a cousin of Deborah Compagnoni, the mountaineer who was the first to conquer K2, the mountain on the Pakistan-China border that is the second highest in the world.


12 May 2017

Zeno Colò - Olympic skiing champion

Downhill ace reached speeds of almost 100mph with no helmet

Zeno Colò, pictured on the way to his 1947 skiing world speed record
Zeno Colò, pictured on the way to his 1947
skiing world speed record
Zeno Colò, the first Italian to win an Olympic alpine skiing title when he took the downhill gold at the 1952 Oslo Winter Games, died on this day in 1993, aged 72.

The winner, too, of the downhill and giant slalom World championship titles in Aspen in 1950, Colò achieved his success during a brief window in a life spent on skis.

Deprived of prime competitive years by the Second World War, part of which he spent as a prisoner of war, he began his career late, in 1947 at the age of 27, only to be banned for life in 1954 under the strict rules defining amateur status after he endorsed a brand of ski boots and a ski jacket.

Colò was born in Tuscany but in a mountainous part of the region in the village of Cutigliano, which is 678m (2,044ft) above sea level and is just 14km (9 miles) from Abetone, one of the largest ski resorts in the Apennines, with more than 50km (31 miles) of ski slopes, several of which were designed by Colò himself.

He began competitive skiing at the age of 14 and was selected for the Italian national team at 15. The outbreak of war brought his career to a stop but he maintained his skills as a member of an army alpine patrol in Cervinia, close to the Swiss border.

He remained in Cervinia after the war had finished and in 1947, the first year of his resumed career, on the Italian side of the nearby Klein Matterhorn (the Little Matterhorn), he set a world speed record of 158.8kph (98.7 mph), which stood for 13 years. The previous record of 136 kph (85mph), set by Leo Gasperl had stood for 16 years.

Using wooden skis,Zeno Colo won Olympic and world titles in downhill and giant slalom competitions
Using wooden skis,Zeno Colò won Olympic and world
titles in downhill and giant slalom competitions
Colò thus established himself as one of the first great downhill skiers. His so-called “turtle egg" position was the precursor of egg position that skiers still use today to reduce drag. His achievement in clocking such a speed was all the more remarkable, considering he used skis from wood and did not wear a helmet.

His big successes came at the World championships in 1950 in Aspen, when he won gold medals in both downhill and giant slalom, and the silver in slalom, followed two years later, at the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, with gold in the downhill.

Colò also finished fourth in the giant slalom and the slalom. Italy would wait two decades for its next Olympic gold in alpine skiing until Gustav Thöni's took giant slalom gold in 1972.

He was the first Italian to win the downhill title at the World championships and the first of any nationality to win the giant slalom, which was contested for the first time that year. Staying on in Aspen afterwards, he took in the North American championships, where he was also winner of the downhill.

Colò was Italy's torch bearer at the 1956 Olympics despite being banned
Colò was Italy's torch bearer at the 1956
Olympics despite being banned
After the Oslo Games, Colò linked his name to a ski boot maker and a ski jacket. According to the regulations of the time, this breached his amateur status and in 1954 he was barred from participating in subsequent competitions.

Colò protested against the disqualification but his appeals were dismissed. Although he was allowed to compete in the national championships, it was the end of his international career. Pointedly, Italy selected him for the Olympics of Cortina d'Ampezzo in 1956 as a simple torchbearer.

He retired from competition with a record in the Italian Alpine ski championships of 29 wins in downhill, four in giant slalom, 10 in special slalom and six in combined disciplines.

Skiing remained the focus of his life, however. Leaving behind competitive skiing, he became a ski instructor at the Abetone resort, which he helped promote and develop as the ski resort of the Pistoia province. In 1973 he designed three ski slopes, which he named Zeno 1, 2 and 3.

He retained his connection with the Alps as director of the ski school in Madesimo, in the province of Sondrio in northern Lombardy.

In 1989 the Italian Winter Sports Federation finally revoked the disqualification imposed on him in 1954, although by then his days of competition were in the distant past. A lifelong smoker, his death in 1972 was the result of lung cancer.

Since Colò won his Olympic gold, Italy has won 12 more Alpine skiing gold medals, three of the them collected by the great Alberto Tomba.

The Palazzo Pretorio in Cutigliano
The Palazzo Pretorio in Cutigliano
Travel tip:

Colò was born in Cutigliano and died in San Marcello Pistoiese, a small town less than 10km (6 miles) away. Cutigliano is an attractive medieval village, its roots possibly going back to Roman times but more likely to have origins in the eighth or ninth centuries, when it was a staging post on the mountain road linking Pistoia with Modena.  The 14th-century Palazzo Pretorio is built in Florentine Renaissance style.

Travel tip:

San Marcello Pistoiese is a much larger place than Cutigliano, with a population of about 7,000 and again with a medieval heritage.  The churches of Santa Caterina and San Marcello are worth visiting, the latter featuring a mural by the 18th century Florentine artist Giuseppe Gricci.  San Marcello is home to the Pistoia Mountains Astronomical Observatory.