Monday, a day of celebration at the 2021 World Championships in Cortina, presented by Telepass, and the perfect word to try to sum up everything that happened under the skies of Cortina today, which was rather a lot, is Carnival.

An eternity of confetti, pieces of coloured paper thrown into the air, bringing happiness and immediate moments of carnival.

“Trick or treat” say the Americans, disguised as pumpkins or something similar, on their day of scares and sugar highs, that of Halloween, which we have learned to celebrate even at our latitudes.

Today, however, we say “treat or treat” as we spot four bon-bon delicacies on the Tofane tray, for a feast of indigestion, which however leads us only halfway along the path of our World Championship.

Combined, the men’s and the women’s, or rather vice versa. “But what a combination” because rigging four different gates and traces is a feat almost worthy of the acrobats at Cirque du Soleil.

The favourites are all big names, Harlequin and Columbine, Punch and Judy.  Let’s put it like this, the favourites are clear, the marvels who, also in a year without the rag of a combined race, shows up at the gate convinced they have not forgotten how to win one.

Let’s start with the women. Federica Brignone is the holder of the specialty cup and, orphan of a lame year, will remain so until the next coronation.

She starts as the favourite and in the first run she arrives as the favourite, straight as a spindle, she tames the super-G of the morning that opens the dances of fat Monday, which should be mardi gras, in theory, putting all the others in line.

Just 1 hundredth behind, which is the absolute smallest distance possible, at least in skiing, but which in these world championships features rather frequently, we find the Italian, splendid and smiling Elena Curtoni, who takes the DeLorean and travels back in time, for an almost perfect race.

In third place, the true favourite, or rather the other true favourite, Mikaela Shiffrin. On paper she should defend herself in this run, but she is still the one who took home the bronze in the last super-G, and in fact ready steady, she throws away her mask, and with bib 28, claims third place in the run. 

But watch out for the cat-eyed couple, two sisters who have made a pact, even if not really sisters, but who seem to share the same magnificent idea: Michelle Gisin, with her endearing smile, and the great Petra Vhlova, who together finish a clean-clean, fast-fast super-G, and finish fifth and seventh respectively, only a confetti throw from the best and in perfect position to aim for the bang in the second run, that of the slalom.

In the men’s Super-G on the other hand, there is a little surprise at the end, if not in the names, at least in the chronometer, no wait, even in the names. The best time in the run appears to belong to the leader, the French Alexis Pinturault, an incontestable favourite for all the others, one on which the bookmakers, in combined, do not even accept bets anymore.

But to see him in the lead already after the Super-G, despite the class and despite the bronze last Thursday, is a big deal. Fourth, the good Matthias Mayer, fourth is fourth but in the economy of the two runs he certainly should not already be behind the Frenchman. Between them, in the middle, a name we’ve already heard somewhere this week, a certain Vincent Kriechmayr, Austrian, disguised as King Midas since arriving here.

Everything is linear, or almost, but it is carnival and so anything goes, and the Canadian, James Crawford, born in 1997, with the icy bib number 32, skis the run of his life. First, very first, and until the afternoon no one can tell him it’s not true. Bravo!

The combined is like a carnival we said, like a puzzle or a mosaic, even better, it is like one of those plastic puzzles in which you have to rearrange the numbers from 1 to 15.

It’s pure math, but if you miss a move, you’re out.

The combined is like this, a game of positioning, seconds and counting.

And in the second runs, in fact, the seconds accumulate. The first gates of the slalom claim illustrious victims and the non-specialists of the narrow poles, stumble, go out. Our Federica Brignone was unfortunate, leaving immediately and leaving early, bidding farewell to medal dreams. And with her almost half of the rest, because slalom is a complicated beast.

In the end only 3 make it: Mikaela Shiffrin, stratospheric, perfect and first, Petra Vlhova, second, and Michelle Gisin, third. The others: did not arrive.

Or rather arrived, but today they did another sport. Fourth, our Elena Curtoni, first among the humans, but almost two and a half seconds behind the aliens up there at the top.

Of the 30 who start, only 16 arrive, discontented, and the distances really seem a carnival joke.

Even in the men’s race, that prankster of a track makes all those who do not have an intimate relationship with the slalom fly off the track. The Canadian boy defends himself as best he can and finishes fourth, Kriechmayr not only does not win, which is already big news, but he doesn’t even arrive, and neither does Mayer, both out.  

The red carpet seems to be rolled out for His Majesty Pinturault, when suddenly another Austrian, Marco Schwarz, fifth in the first run, hits the sweet spot and slides ahead by 4 hundredths.

Hands in the hair for the French, a moment of Mexican stalemate, but in the end Austria wins.

First Marco Schwarz, second Pinturault, his second world championship medal, and third the Swiss Meillard. Here too, from the fifth place down, the distances are abysmal.

Total domination by the second runs then, with 6 medallists out of six from the technical disciplines, revving the engines for the rest of the world championships.

My name is Jacopo Pozzi, this is the diary of the World Championships and today, confetti for the winners, who celebrate, regret for those who lose. It is the oldest story in the world, but in a world that burns and consumes everything, today, our embrace goes to Mikaela Shiffrin, who’s smile we missed seeing, who really has the magic of always sounding sincere when she speaks, which is worth much more than her already amazing list of achievements. 

The queen of our carnival.

“The Championships Diary – Day 8”: 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