In an era where so-called all-rounders seem to be a dying breed, a young Italian skier seems to be breaking out of the mould. At only 24 years-old, Marta Bassino has been on skiracing’s “to-watch” list and this year she seems to finally have found her flow.
A giant-slalom specialist at heart, Marta has been steadily improving in the speed disciplines and this season has accomplished an outstanding feat – in less than two months she claimed World Cup podiums in five disciplines. While podiums in Giant Slalom and Parallel Giant Slalom might not have come as a huge surprise for a skier who certainly belongs to the very top of the technical discipline, it was her performances in Alpine Combined, Super G and Downhill that made Marta quickly stand out from the rest of the field.
But who is Marta Bassino, and how did a young skier nicknamed Dory (yes, after the forgetful character from Nemo) become one of the best skiers of her generation?
Multifaceted, willing and stylish are the three adjectives she uses to describe herself on her official site, yet these don’t seem to paint the full picture. It’s in the words of one of her coaches that Marta’s essence might be hidden: “She skis like Ingemar Stenmark, cutting through snow with lightness and drawing lines impossible to replicate by others. She does this without having a beast-like physique, she doesn’t need one,” he described what makes Marta so different.
And it’s in those moment, while she carves down the slope with her innate elegance that all the forgetfulness is lost and Marta knows exactly what to do, when to do it and how to do it fast.
Born to a ski-instructor father, Marta’s love for snow and skiing was far from immediate – not because she disliked the sport, but because the cold, and the early mornings took a while to grow on her.
"Let’s just say that sleep is very important to me and you will not risk seeing me arrive early for a morning appointment. If I have nothing planned I will happily lounge in bed all morning, but it’s true that days like that are few and far in between," Marta laughingly comments on her reputation of not being a morning person.
But early mornings, packed schedules, team rivalries and so much more are all part of being a professional skier and Marta has not been afraid to tackle them all head first.
"I grew up a lot over the past few seasons, I am more aware of how I am and what I want. When I entered the World Cup circuit I had no idea what to expect, but step by step I have found my confidence. Every season has been a learning opportunity and has added something to my skiing, to my physical abilities and maybe most importantly to my mental game."
With better results comes also a significantly higher level of interest from the media, something Marta initially struggled with but found a way to rationalize to herself.
"I’m quite shy by nature and in the early days I struggled to make a connection with the cameras and had often felt the urge to run away from the media. After a while I realized – if they are interviewing me it’s because I did well and that’s a good sign !"
Marta is entering the last month of the 2020 World Cup season in 4th place in the Overall standings and while everyone around is quick to label this breakthrough season as an outstanding one, she is holding her feet firmly planted on the ground and already looking at how to learn something to be an even better skier in the next one.
"Despite a dream season I don’t want to give it a mark, I don’t like doing it. I’ll say it has been really positive and I want to continue at the same pace. I’m learning to handle the races, the competition, the fans, my own expectations and my own body…this is not easy and for it I need experience and years of work."
And it’s thanks to this down-to-earthiness and eagerness to always do better that little forgetful Dory is making all the right moves to claim her rightful place in the pecking order of the White Circus.