Elena and Federico, when love for the mountains is in your DNA

Elena and Federico, when love for the mountains is in your DNA
Wednesday 8 January 2020


Courage, dedication, resolve, and energy are the words that best describe the Nicolini siblings: Elena, downhill ski instructor and female ski mountaineering champion, and Federico, child prodigy of ski mountaineering of international standing.

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It is all the fault of their father, Franco, multiple prize-winning ski mountaineer and Alpine Guide who brought up the two youngsters on the snow.

“Dad's influence was fundamental for both of us. At home nobody ever talked about football or volleyball. We were used to seeing him taking part in competitions, but I would never have imagined following him in ski mountaineering,” recounts Elena. “It is a tough sport, with few female participants, but after eighteen years of downhill ski racing this new passion developed inside me”. After all, competitive sports are a family trait.

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Today Elena competes in the Italian Cup, while Federico was invited to join the national team at just 17 years, in his first competition year, and victories arrived rapidly in the Junior World Cup and World Junior Championships. For the last two years he has been competing in the Senior category and every season his level improves: “I am still young, I have time to mature and continue improving. My dream is to one day win the World Cup”.

Training and determination are fundamental to reach this level of achievement and ski mountaineering demands the utmost physical effort during the ascent. However, the beauty of the panoramas and the thrill of the descent justify all the sweat and hard work.

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“We support our family team”

The Nicolini siblings train throughout the seasons, even in summer: rock climbing, hiking, and mountain climbing all help to keep fit for the ascent. The support of their only and matchless team is also fundamental: their family. “We are very close knit and if it happens that I am not 100 per cent on form, they spur me on”, recounts Elena. 

The strength of the family was especially important four years ago when Davide,  Elena's partner in life and in the mountains, fell ill with leukaemia. It was a difficult time, but they defeated the disease and are now a closer couple than ever before. What is really important in life? “Decide what matters to you most and appreciate life in those terms, as it is.”

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“For us the Pedrotti Hut is home. Welcoming fellow citizens of the world, who love the mountains as much as we do, makes us immensely happy.”

Federico and Elena have also found a way to enjoy the mountains during the summer months and, together with their father and mother, Franco and Sandra, they manage what by now they think of as home: the Rifugio Pedrotti.

“Our special relationship with the mountains enables us to appreciate their true essence: solitude, sometimes freedom, and whenever or wherever, their incredible beauty.” 

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The hut is one of the refreshment points on the famous trail running race “Dolomiti di Brenta Trail”, in which Elena and Federico could hardly fail to take part. They have each brought home one satisfying victory, Federico in 2017, Elena in 2018. “We didn't want to steal the limelight from each other, and taking turns each year doesn't harm anyone!”

Travelling around the world, the two always miss Molveno and the Brenta Dolomites and are more than happy to return home, however their competitions went. Of course, if they also have a trophy to bring home, so much the better.

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At the end of the summer season at the Hut, Elena and Federico return home in Molveno, but after a week's rest they already start missing their mountain lifestyle and yearn to return among the peaks.

Fortunately, thanks to their excellent level of fitness, the Hut is just an hour's ascent away. “We like going up as soon as we have the opportunity, and every time is different from the last. We spend hours looking up at the sky with all its subtle shades … How could we ever live without dawn and sunset at the Pedrotti!”

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