First Arianna Follis retires, and now we learn that Marianna Longa is heading out the door (again!). This strikes me as quite a blow to the Italian women’s team. Before I wrote this post, if you asked me to list some other top Italian women besides Follis and Longa off the top of my head, I’d probably have been able to name Magda Genuin, Antonella Confortella and maybe one or two others if I’d really thought about it.
Going back through some data, it does seem like the Italian women are really going to be struggling next year, particularly in putting together a relay team. I’ve put together some graphs of the remaining contenders, though I’m by no means an expert in up-and-coming Italian women, so I apologize if I’ve omitted someone important.
First we have some “older” ladies:
Genuin is a talented sprinter, with several WC level podiums and numerous top tens. She’s not a spectacular distance skier, though, as her best results just break the 50 FIS point level. Confortola is a stronger distance skier, but she’s only cracked the top ten four times in a WC level race, and 36 is fairly old for WC skiers. Also, her results have been trending in the wrong direction lately.
Then we have some folks in their mid to late twenties:
Rupil and Topranin are probably the stronger distance skiers here, while Brocard has an edge in sprinting. Brocard has some solid sprint results (top 30) as do Rupil and Topranin (again, top 30) at the WC level. But looking at their how their results have been trending, I’m not sure they’re likely to become regulars in the top ten next year, although you never know. One thing’s for sure, these three ladies are going to spend more time on the WC circuit next year than doing OPA races.
How about the younger gals?
I know next to nothing about any of these ladies; I basically just grabbed the names of the ladies under 23 with some of the best FIS points recently. Gaia Vuerich looks to be the only serious sprinter in the bunch. Going just by FIS points, the rest of them seem fairly early in their development, so I wouldn’t look for these ladies to be making a big impact on the WC next year, though you’d think they’d be getting some starts.
The bottom line here is this: can an Italian women’s squad led by Magda Genuin, Silvia Rupil and Antonella Confortella be successful? I don’t know. But I feel like the Finnish women (and maybe the Germans) may be the most likely to benefit from a weakened Italian squad, particularly in the relays. Without Longa and Follis, we may be in for a real show of Norwegian dominance next year with the Swedes and Kowalczyk playing spoilers.