“Stelvio, what a slope!” (Piero Gros)

40 anni dopo la prima vittoria! (Credits: Pentaphoto)

Piero Gros is one of the legends of Italian skiing. He was born in Sauze d’Oulx (Piedmont) and doesn’t look his age, fifty-eight years characterized by the same constant grit. It’s the determination of when he was a slalom racer and won even when with “impossible” bib numbers. A few days ago he celebrated the 40th anniversary of his first World Cup victory. He won the debut giant slalom in Val d’Isere with bib number 45 and a few days later he won the Campiglio slalom too. He was just 18 years old and these are two of his still standing records. He’s now involved with many activities, and for what skiing is concerned he’s now testimonial for Colmar and a speaker of TV Svizzera Italiana.

He has never fought for the first place on Stelvio and he’s probably sorry for that. “The slope is complete, difficult and extremely tiring. It’s a true excellence and a perfect and fabulous slope for all disciplines. I find it difficult to understand the reason why it’s not used for more than one DH race…optimization is good, considering the times we’re living!” Pierino says.

Gros specialized in slalom and giant slalom, but he was great in combined too. He won the overall World Cup when he was just 19 years old, another one of his records. “My choice was lucid and it was somehow a way to protect myself. Speed is risky and I didn’t want to risk. I wasn’t afraid, but skiing in those years was tough. I had talent and anger, but I immediately learned to think medium-term and long-term and – in many ways – I was right. I won a lot, didn’t I?” says Gros

DH has evolved dramatically, if compared to 1960s and 1970s and both in materials and safety of the slopes. “That’s true, even though I’m sure that it was all more difficult in the past. There were haycocks and fences on the edge of the slopes, and the tracks were undulating and full of holes. I remember I reached 116 km/h in the arrival “schuss” of Streif in Kitzbuehel and I was almost standing. Now you reach that speed in a curve… In the past we were those in charge of measuring the track and slow down if we felt it was the right decision to take or if we thought it was a winning tactic. Now the tracks are slowed down by the marking and the curves that sometimes distort the races. It’s a shame but it’s not easy to find the balance between show and security, even thought I disagree with a few choices…” explains the “Azzurri” champion.