Penultimate day of races, penultimate day of celebrations and the penultimate day of the World Championship diary in Cortina 2021, presented by Telepass, and the word of the day, the penultimate of our journey, is: illusion.

Illusion, magic, trap, spell and sorcerer, in a game of vanishings and sudden reappearances, hidden in full view.

If the world is a giant, successful illusionist trick, then there must also be a very clever illusionist around somewhere.

Watching, discovering, trying to understand and above all relishing when failing, it’s nice to imagine the tricks and not really know them, in a game of now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t, which in slalom also becomes now-I-look-now-I-don’t, because when the champion that makes your heart beat, starts, one eye looks on the track and the other does not, because the things that can go wrong are plenty and perhaps too many.

Bumps, a flash of sun that warms the hands but dazzles the eyes, the red chronometer. 

The magic of the slalom thus becomes a song, a rustling of insistent and rhythmic noises which, between sharp edges and jointed poles, almost creates the illusion of being in the centre of a tornado.

There is however a safe place in the heart of every tornado and it is our job to look for it and find it, even if the magician will never reveal his secrets, because then he’d merely be a miserable scientist.

What the ancients called magic and today we call science, in this place and time they are, for an instant, the same thing. 

Harry Houdini as the Wizard Zurli. Now you see me. And now you don’t. 

But the bigger and more sensational the illusion, the greater our amazement. April 8, 1983, when none of today’s medallists were yet born, a New Jersey boy made the Statue of Liberty disappear on live TV.

His name was David Copperfield and his name is still David Copperfield. A stage name, a name actually borrowed from art, that of Charles Dickens, who wrote about himself in a book entitled, precisely, David Copperfield and in which there was very little magic, being set in the suffering and misery of the industrial revolution.

In any case, making the greatest American monument disappear, even for an instant, was a jaw-dropping trick for the lucky ones present. The cloth rises and the cloth falls, the statue disappears, and the statue reappears, like a light, like an idea, like the rhythm in a capricious run.

Great equals great, the values ​​it embodies are exactly the same, and the magic in the first run is that of Katharina Liensberger who hides the descent of her majesty Mikaela, the Statue of Liberty, fourth, and with her that of all the others, with the exception of only Petra Vhlova, who seems to have little concept for illusions and who rather appears to personify the phrase: bread to bread, wine to wine.

Choose a person who looks at you as if you were magic, Frida, and no wonder, because nothing can be more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is like the finger of the universe resting on a man’s shoulder.

But even skiing, if you want, is no joke.

The first hour of today is an enigma, a mystery, a thought you did not expect and that you want to check at lunchtime to see if it still sounds the same, or has become a quick lie.

It is the wand that chooses Harry Potter, it is not always clear why, but like the snow on Druscé A, many things do not need to be explained. Eager audiences, waiting to be amazed. 

Second heat, the scenery changes, the light changes, the track changes but not the slope, which falls asleep in a shade in which it will perhaps be easier to see the sparkle of the best. 

Illusionists of all kinds challenge the air, challenge the track and the turns, many of them discover the tricks and smile just for having made it.

Between the wizard Merlin and the sorceress Magò, meddlesome and irresistible in their roles as heroes, comes the young Slovenian Andrea Slokar, who was not supposed to be at the world championships, she was supposed to be on vacation, she shouldn’t have been much at all, she should have been mediocre, instead she races like a snake charmer, recovers 12 positions and finishes fifth.

There are still 4 to go, after her, Mikaela Shiffrin, on a track that becomes more and more selective, manages to overtake the Swiss Wendy Holdener, securing her umpteenth medal of a career that others will recount better than us, because we’ve run out of things to say about it.

But the duel for gold today is entirely between the Slovak Petra Vhlova and Austrian Katharina Liensberger. Vhlova, which is truly magical, hides the track as if it were just another ace up her sleeve, flies, rushes to the finish line, rejoices, lets go and banks on final triumph.

Katharina starts, the last woman at the gate of a tremendous World Championship.

At the end of the book, in the very last pages, the wizard of Oz tells Dorothy, the cowardly lion, the tin man and the brainless scarecrow, in a flicker of sweet humility that he knows he’s not the wizard they were waiting for, but that he still may be the wizard they need. 

Liensberger flies between the poles, completes her magic and eclipses everything else, which vanishes in a phantasmagorical puff.

Gold.

Gigantic gold, in front of the giantesses of the world.

First Katharina Liensberger, Austria

Second Petra Vhlova, Slovakia

Third Mikaela Shiffrin, who runs onto the track and embraces everyone, because that’s who she is.

By the way, do you know how David Copperfield made the statue of liberty disappear? While it was covered by a giant sheet, a well-contrived and silent mechanism slowly moved the spectators’ seats. A few, small, imperceptible degrees, and they, without realizing it, found themselves staring at a point in the sky where they believed the statue to be.

Because it is often enough to look at a piece of sky to be overwhelmed by amazement, and because, just like beauty, magic does not exist, except in the eyes of the beholder.

My name is Jacopo Pozzi, and this is the World Championship diary.

“The Championships Diary – Day 13”: 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.