The Solden race was a mixed bag of emotions.
It was a day when everything and anything could happen.
That shouldn’t have been the first outing of the season and having to start on the snow of Rettenbach made me sleep poorly the night before.
In fact, I didn’t sleep at all, instead I spent the night before the race in a state of anxiety.
In addition, when I got up in the morning I realized the conditions were not the best due to a dense fog, the colour of milk, which prevented the sunlight from breaking through. I was reeling all the way up the slope.

But when we finally got out of that sea of fog, close to the top, everything changed in the blink of an eye.
The slope looked brutal, almost ferocious, and immediately I felt as though I was inside a bubble. Showtime!
Finally I could see the other athletes.
Finally we were back competing against each other and the explosion of electricity I felt inside did the rest.

We were all asking ourselves how the opponents were doing.
We were all asking ourselves if we were fit.
This always happens at the beginning of a season, and never more so than before this one.
A shiver runs down your spine as you ask yourself the all-important question: are you ready?

In the first run I felt a bit wobbly on my skis, but the clock gave its verdict.
When I arrived in the mixed zone, during the interviews, everyone pointed out that I was in a good position and that I must do my best to defend it.
But I didn’t want to defend.
For me this was a position of attack.
I may be only 20 years old, but I was, and am, tired of finishing fourth, fifth or sixth.
It is no longer enough.
I wanted more, and in the second run I threw myself down the valley with single-minded determination.

Perhaps this is what makes me different from other twenty-year olds.
It feels as though I am hungrier than they are, and at the same time I live with an unbearable impatience that I cannot ignore.
I know I can be one of the best, but I want it now.
Not tomorrow.

In the second run, however, I made a big mistake in the final part, and I was convinced I would be beaten by the four skiers who yet had to go, and finish fifth. Then the first skier finished behind me.
The second one too, and I realized I had achieved my first ever podium.
The whole team came to congratulate me and to celebrate with me, it was the best moment of the entire weekend. Pure joy.
At the end, Gino (Caviezel) and I were left to battle for first position and when I saw the red light next to his name I exploded, overwhelmed by the moment and covered in goose bumps from head to toe.
Sharing the podium with two fighters like Gino and Marco (Odermatt) made the victory all the more precious.

This was my first, but I will do everything to make it the first of many.
I think what made the difference for me is something my dad once taught me:

“When you want to do something, do it to win,
otherwise it doesn’t even make sense to start.”

The first times my dad took me skiing as a child, it didn’t exactly go the way he expected.
I hated skiing! Very much!
He had been a great freestyle skier and for years he travelled all over Europe to look for the coolest locations.
He had an intense, deep, and sacred love for snow and its beauty.
It was a very different type of love from the one I would develop later, which is more like a rush of adrenaline, a love at first sight that never runs out, but nurtures me and consumes me at the same time.

When I was five years old, he would try to take me skiing a few kilometres outside Oslo, but I would always come up with an excuse not to go.
Sometimes I would fake a cough or a fever to avoid spending the afternoon on the snow.
Dad finally gave up and I was able to dedicate myself to my only big
dream: football.

I am half Brazilian, my mum’s half, and from that side of the world I inherited an entire culture.
A joyful, warm culture with football in the centre.
I grew up watching my favourite Youtube videos a million times, replaying them in order to study the highlights of Ronaldinho or the Joga Bonito ads doing the global rounds.

There was no doubt in my mind: football.

Unfortunately for me, or perhaps fortunately, I had no football talent whatsoever.
I was very bad at it. Worse than everyone else.
I always asked my father: “Why don’t they ever pass the ball to me?”
“Why should they? You can’t do anything better than anybody else!” he responded.
So I stopped sleeping and football became my obsession.

I always trained, at any hour, before and after school, at break-time, in the evening after dinner, until I had improved my technique enough to become one of the best in the team.
During that time I understood many things about how I am made and how my brain works: I have to succeed.
If I succeed I have fun, if not, I don’t.
Simple, but remarkably true.

A few years later, when it seemed that football was my present and my future, Dad asked me I if I wanted to try skiing again.
I was older, more mature, and I had learned to recognize the triggers of my character. I knew that I was unable to resist a challenge.
Having started later than the others, I found myself at the bottom of the group.
While the others were focused on improving their technique, I was still learning the basics in order to stay balanced on the skis.

Then I felt the wind in my face.
The adrenaline.
And I realized how cruel and devastating the physical effort required.
It wasn’t football, it was more.
My father started training me, and when I had my first results I was overwhelmed by this incredible feeling.
From last to first, nothing gives you more satisfaction than that.
I had no more doubts.

And I will never have any again.
Whatever the future has in store for me, whether on the snow or not, I will always be faithful to my way of approaching the world.
Warm like a South American, reliable like a Norwegian, and with the desire to reach the top before the others.

The Owl Post for Cortina 2021