Q&A with Stefano
Being part of the Mariani team means being an integral part of a project that goes well beyond the usual sponsor-athlete relationship. What does it mean to you?
I started working with Davide in 2008 before my first European Championship as a student, and it has never been the classic sponsor/athlete relationship. I owe a lot to Davide, and together we have often challenged ourselves, ideating forward-thinking projects that, in the end, would hit the market and be available to end-consumers.
This mutual trust and emulation are priceless and have probably allowed us to overachieve over time. There has always been a collaborative relationship in designing products and testing prototypes, which led to outstanding products appreciated worldwide. Seeing the booth with products in which you’ve been involved someway is always an amazing feeling.
To what extent has the Mariani team been a factor of progress that has helped you achieve results at an international level?
As I said before, Davide has always had a key role in my career since he has always helped me, not so much in terms of materials but, more importantly, in my personal growth and athletics. We often found ourselves talking about training in the periods when results were not good, and he has always given me advice that led me to win every race I could win.
Besides, the team has slowly developed over time and is now really mature. More than just a bunch of athletes, we are a group of real friends that have built a friendship that goes well beyond the racing environment. There has always been maximum collaboration and respect between us, even at races where we race each other (national championships, for instance).
For over 15 years, several members of the team have managed to become World Champions. Does it inspire and motivate you to be the next one?
Yes, the aspiration for any skater is to become a World Champion, and knowing that members of the team have managed to do so in the past, is certainly a stimulus that pushes you to do more.
In the end, however, one must look at the full picture and consider that if I came short to clinch a world title, I still brought the team 5 European titles, 12 Italian titles, and a silver medal at the World Championships. Surely there has always been an incentive to do better, but in the end, I believe that reasserting yourself years after years comes first.
How do you manage to maintain a professional athlete’s daily commitment in the pandemic period without knowing if you will race in the coming months?
I think the most difficult part is to keep training hard without having goals. Over the months, it has become really challenging to structure a training program to peak for a specific event without knowing what will happen the next day. This is how it is, and there is not much we can really do, so we still hope that it all gets back to how it was a year back shortly. In addition to training, we are also missing our dearest friends with whom we have not been in touch for about a year, and that, in a general context, contributes to not being fully focused on sports activities.