The tried and tested couple from Aosta Valley hits the world goal and improves on the bronze of Seefeld 2019, in the Team Sprint free of Planica, beaten only by the Norway of Golberg and Klæbo.
Planica, Slovenia – Feb. 27st 2023 • It was the race circled in red, the most suited to their characteristics. And the couple made up of Francesco De Fabiani (Centro Sportivo Esercito) and Federico Pellegrino (Fiamme Oro) were ready.
Mentalized, ready, determined, cohesive, reactive. Almost unbeatable. Almost, because if the bronze was within expectations and the silver that little something extra, the duo from Valle d'Aosta barely managed to take the gold medal, which finished (deservedly) on the chest of the Norwegians, Paal Golberg and Johannes H. Klæbo.
In qualifying, the skiers from Aosta Valley did well, let’s say average, but the new race format (with qualifying on a single lap for all the participants) «at least avoided us ending up in the second heat of the semifinal, which had penalized us on other occasions – says Defast – getting to the final with less recovery time».
The tactics for the final (3 laps each, American-style) are simple to think about, less to implement: De Fabiani in the first, third and fifth fractions trying not to lose the top positions, Pellegrino in second, fourth and sixth, ready to finalize the partner's job.
Easy? «No, not at all – thundered Defast – on paper it's easy, everything’s different on track. I start by saying that I had very fast skis, I would like to thank the amazing work of the ski technicians and of all the Italy Team, as well as a special mention for the Centro Sportivo Esercito, which allows me to do this job».
The snow conditions have changed «fortunately for the better – adds the new world silver medalist – and this has made our task easier. I just had to think about not losing too much ground to Golberg (Norway) and Jay (France). I skied well, cleanly, without ever exaggerating, but responding punctually to accelerations, trying not to make mistakes. Tactically I was very shrewd and my “mission” was to bring Chicco into the best possible position at the last change!». Which the Alpine succeeded splendidly, who then simply waited for the outcome of the final: «Once Pellegrino took off, I almost became “uninterested” in how it could end, because I know how high my teammate's condition is. I had no doubts, Chicco had a crazy finish as always and here we are, silver at the 2023 World Cup, I'm very happy!».
After the third place in Val di Fiemme, the second place in Livigno, the victory in Dobbiaco, Defast's 2023 is enriched by a world medal (the second after the bronze medal in Seefeld 2019) which has a different flavour: «in Seefeld we were a couple to discover, since then we have built harmony, tactics, the desire to improve. If I think that a few hundred meters from the finish we were actually battling for the gold medal, it gives me shivers. Let's say that today we fully hit the target and losing to such Norway is still an honor for us. Let's not forget that France, another very strong team, finished third. We must be proud».
Francesco's next world championship event will be with the 4 x 10 km on March 3, before the 50 km, scheduled for March 5, with the classic mass start format.
Press Office of Francesco De Fabiani
Written by Paolo Mei
Translated by Nicolò Caneparo