Days of perplexity, dark streets and mythology at the 2021 World Championships in Cortina, presented by Telepass, and the word of the day, at the mercy of a selective and arrogant track, is: labyrinth.

Labyrinth, labyrinths, labyrinthitis, or, as the ancients said, Daedalus.

It is often used: a labyrinth of streets, a labyrinth of things, to describe the appearance of organized chaos, like Picasso’s Guernica, or like any of Giorgio De Chirico’s works, where everything appears out of place, but isn’t: it’s curled up and crumpled, but exactly where it should be.

Daedalus is the name of the Greek architect who first invented the labyrinth, or the maze, on the island of Crete, at the behest of the sadist King Minos.

Of all the creation myths, the Greek is the most realistic in absolute, even if it doesn’t appear realistic. The daughter of Minos, king of Crete, had the bad idea of ​​mating with a bull emerging from the sea and gave birth to the legendary Minotaur, in a birth we imagine complex.

Half man and half bull: bad, very bad, to the point that the wise King asked our good Daedalus to create a labyrinth to trap him.

The architect was helped by his son Icarus and when they finished, everything was so well thought out that they themselves got lost in the crevices of their work.

But one does not become an inventor by chance, and so Daedalus made a pair of wings glued together with wax, for him and for his son, in order to fly away from that place of mystery and avoid ending up in the jaws of the Minotaur.

The naive Icarus then had the healthy arrogance of trying to use those wings to reach the sun, but that’s another story, and we all know too well its tragic ending.

Labyrinth, labyrinth, it keeps featuring, from Harry Potter’s “Triwizard Cup” to the “Name of the Rose”. If Umberto Eco knew that we mentioned them in same sentence, perhaps he would pull our ear; from the Native Americans to “Alice in Wonderland” who ran away from the labyrinth, chased by talking playing cards armed with halberds with heart-shaped tips.

Labirinti is also the name of the slope that today awarded the World Giant Slalom gold medal, and in its maze of narrow lanes, curves and crossings, numerous modern Theseus contenders presented themselves at the gate: it was of course Theseus who killed the Minotaur.

The Minotaur, the beast, the animal to beat, to slay, which appears as a vision of terror in the first run, already, with bib number four.

He is on the shoulders of Alexis Pinturault, obligatory favourite, prohibitive favourite, whose head, supported by a bull’s neck for real, appears to have very clear ideas about how to navigate the labyrinth.

A perfect first run, which stuns those present, as if everything were overturned and it was the bull, or the Minotaur in this case, to skewer the great sword inside the neck of the bullfighter.

Difference of seconds, not tenths, seconds, to all the participants, from Henrik Kristoffersen, who resembles San Giorgio, slender as he is, to Croatian Filip Zubcic, who is definitely more Garibaldino, both in his manner and style.

Frenchman Pinturault takes the throne and never descends from it.

At least until a couple of brave adventurers manage to throw their hearts over the fence and their fears out the window, charging their skis in the direction of the valley, and finally placing themselves a few tenths from the Frenchman. 

Mathieu Faivre, French, Luca De Aliprandini, Italian and Alexandre Schmid, German, are the components of a curious and fierce crusade.

When the second run starts, it all seems like a slow procession towards the celebration of the triumph of the French Minotaur. Who could ever aspire to unhinge him from his throne is not clear to anyone, not even perhaps to the ones departing.

But you don’t become a skier if you like calculations, you become a skier if you like to fly.

Fly downstream, fly between the curves. A pair of crafty ones tie a red wool thread around their waist, to remember the way home, and recover abundant positions, to be counted by repeating the 3-times table.

Slovak Adam Zampa recoups twelve, Kristoffersen six, nine for our excellent Giovanni Franzoni.

When the only one missing is the great Alexis Pinturault, however, the provisional podium says Mathieu Faivre, first, De Aliprandini second, and the Austrian Schwarz, third. 

No one even dares to think of maintaining his current position. Not the Austrian, who has 1 and a half seconds to recover from Pinturault, not the Italian, who is already in tears of joy over his first career podium, and not Faivre, who would never blemish himself with a crime of treason, that of ousting the Minotaur.

But mythology, as we know, always serves up a final blow, the proclaimed ruler starts, makes a mistake, falls, gets up again, but by now he is out.

Hardly anyone can believe it, perhaps not even him.  

The beast, today, is defeated, and the podium remains the surprise of the day.

Mathieu Faivre, France, gold.

Luca De Aliprandini, Italy, silver.

Marco Schwarz, Austria, bronze.

My name is Jacopo Pozzi, and today the Labirinti track kept faith with centuries of legends and mythologies, with a battle between the gods of Olympus.

“The Championships Diary – Day 12”: the emotions and the best moments of the day told by Jacopo Pozzi, pen of The Owl Post, on the Cortina 2021 social media and app. Powered by Telepass