FEB 08, 2019
Understatement is not Sofia Goggia’s style. In fact, the 26-year-old from Bergamo, Italy likes to double up on her victories. Which is why, when she took home her first downhill world cup win at Jeongseon in 2017, she followed it up with a Super-G win the very next day. And she didn’t just win Olympic gold in 2018, she also beat out Lindsey Vonn for the world cup title. “You always have to raise the bar a little bit”, she says with a twinkle in her eye.
The Day of the Crash
In October of 2018, Sofia was flying high. She was ready for the world cup season, in great shape. The hours before the training run that day had been stressful. The conditions weren’t good, the weather unsuitably warm. When it was her turn, with everyone watching, Sofia decided to give 100 percent. Not more than that, though: “I didn’t push myself to the limit.”
But then, a small mistake, a missed gate, a crash. “It was a really banal crash,” she says now. True, it didn’t look spectacular – and didn’t feel that way either, at first: “I didn’t feel any pain. But I knew something was strange.” Like her leg was missing a piece.
They went to the hospital in Innsbruck. A broken ankle, she needed to rest. After the verdict, the room was silent – “the kind of silence that makes you feel cold.” Because Sofia knew what this meant: She would miss a substantial portion of the world cup season. Later that day, when she was alone, she cried desperately.
“It’s always the attitude you put into a situation that makes the difference. And I want to make a difference.”
After that came a period of adjustment. “I had to rethink what my life was going to be like for the next months.” As it turned out, it involved a lot of hard work. But the physiotherapy also gave Sofia perspective: “When I’m there, it’s really easy, because I’m just Sofia, not the Olympic champion.” The injury reminded her that she was human, just like everyone else. And it did something else, too: It showed her how important the support of others was. Her physiotherapist, who has become like a second father and has helped her bounce back from the injury. The team physician, who flew back from America to follow up with her. Her father, who has followed her career every step of the way. “Seeing Sofia get injured was terrible,” he says. “Within fractions of a second, everything can turn for you.” Her family means a lot to Sofia. “They love me the same, no matter if I get the Olympic gold or if I fall at the first gate.” Slowing down and spending time with her loved ones – including her dog – in the rolling hills and ancient cobblestone streets of Lombardy gives her the strength she needs.
After everything, Sofia is convinced that everything happens for a reason. “It’s always the attitude you put into a situation that makes the difference. And I want to make a difference.” Which she did, with sublime results: At her first competition after her return, Sofia was back on the podium two days in a row. And this time, she made it a triple: In Åre, she became Super-G vice world champion. She achieved what seemed so uncertain just a few short months ago, pulling off the comeback of the year. How does she do it, achieve the seemingly impossible? “Because I believe I can do it,” she says with a smile. There it is again, the twinkle in her eye.