La Valanga azzurra - Italian do it better

The Blue Avalanche - Italian do it better

That is how Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Massimo Di Marco described and nicknamed the A team in alpine skiing after the historic event of January 7, 1974.
On that Monday, in the German resort of Berchtesgaden - just below Hadolf Hitler's eagle's nest, - on a very narrow slope and a short, but angled and technical course, our brigade won the top 5 positions in the giant slalom.



The ski resort was equipped with dated lifts and the slopes, as mentioned earlier very impervious, did not allow for cameras denying the possibility of seeing any video of those heroic deeds.



In first place was Piedmont's Piero Gros, with his generation's superhero Gustav Thoeni in second, followed by Erwin Stricker, Helmuth Schmalzl and finally Tino Pietrogiovanna.
"The colonel is letting go of the brakes."



Colonel Tino Pietrogiovanna wore a mustache like his superior in the Police. He went down with a 43 and gave everything, looking for a fourth place that would have earned him qualification for the World Championships. He did not make it, however, fifth place was still a feat. Tino had poor eyesight, yet in the early days he skied without goggles. He could not see the holes, but he ''felt'' them: he had developed a sensitivity that came in handy; in Berchtesgaden a slope that had become a potato field must have seemed smooth to him.
As trainer Mario Cotelli explained in the future, once his career as coach and guide of the Valnga Azzurra adorned with victories and glory was over, the two phenomena Thoeni and Pierino were in an eternal relationship of rivalry alternated by a solid friendship.



Mario explained how Pierino Gross was very talented but lacked the perseverance, determination, and industriousness that instead distinguished Thoeni. These were the characteristics capable of making him the champion we all know.
Gustav was annoyed by the relationship between Pierino's commitment and results, even to the point of not showing up on the podium, the only photo of the fis missing an award-winning competitor.
It was this competitiveness that was the locomotive for the whole group at that time, made up of other athletes besides the magnificent 5 of January 7, I mention my favorite Paolo De Chiesa.



The great Paul's career is frescoed with great placings and call-ups to both the World Championships and the Olympics, without, however, reaching the top step of the podium, due in part to the fact that he lived in the era of timeless phenomena.
For example, his first podium (2nd place) was achieved at "home," in Madonna di Campiglio, on the same day as the first victory of the male skier with the most titles won ever (86 victories) Ingemar Stenmark.
From there on Paul achieved another 11 podiums and 50 top-10 finishes in the World Cup, earning him the right in the field to be a member of the Blue Avalanche.
The Blue Avalanche slowly died out around 1979 due to several events that drove it to exasperation.



First, I emphasize the disgrace linked to the name of Leo David, who went into a coma after a downhill fall in Canada, passing away six years later.
The event created a rift among both athletes and technicians who were accused of failing to carefully assess the boy's physical condition.
In addition, Arrigo Gattai, then president of the Winter Sports Federation, listening to the senators and giving importance to their perception of the moment, stopped the generational change of the team that could have energized and energized it.



In doing so, the senators took their last moments of glory by sacrificing about a five-year run of positive results for Team Italy, which would only see its position redeemed with the advent of the legendary Tomba La Bomba.

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