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31.01.2021

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MARCIALONGA: HOW IT ALL STARTED

Four friends with a dream and a big vision

MARCIALONGA: HOW IT ALL STARTED

News date30.09.2020

There are facts that seem to fit perfectly together and when this is the case, marvellous things happen. 

It was the '60s and cross-country ski was practiced already by a good number of people in Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa (Nones, Deflorian, Chiocchetti, Delladio just to mention some) who found there the right context to practice this still quite unknown discipline. 

Everything changed starting from 1968. On the 7th of February something happened what changed xc-ski: Franco Nones conquered the Olympic gold medal in the 30km race in Grenoble. Along with that, the discipline that was most popular amongst Scandinavian countries, became popular in Italy too even if it was still practiced by a limited amount of skiers. 
In Val di Fiemme the victory of Franco Nones represented an exceptional fact and the entire valley was enthusiastic about the success of this athlete from Castello di Fiemme.

The following year, two cross country ski enthusiasts and friends, Giulio Giovannini and Roberto Moggio, flew to Sweden to take part to the legendary Vasaloppet, the 90km-long-race taking place since 1922They were amazed by the race and its atmosphere and decided to return the following year.  
At the 1970 Vasaloppet, the two friends enrolled also Nele Zorzi and Mario Cristofolini. It was another success, so that following the enthusiasm of the moment, Giulio, Roberto, Nele and Mario thought about organizing the same experience in Italy, in a very similar race-format. 

Where to make as well as the acceptance of the event by local people should not be taken for granted. 
But the two valley of Fiemme and Fassa seemed to be the most fitting context: cross-country skiing was well known there and the enthusiasm was still very high thanks to the victory of Franco Nones. Besides this, the landscape and territory were ideal. Finally, in the two valleys there were - and still are- the important institutions of the Alpine School of the financial police in Predazzo and the Police seat in Moena with their enthusiastic captaing Carlo Valentiniand Lorenzo Cappello who gave their availability and help since the very beginning. 
Besides the four promoters, the first staff of Marcialonga was composedby: Franco Nones, Arrigo Delladio, Giulio Vanzetta, Tino Morandini, Giorgio Fontana, Italo Craffonara, Toni Camerano. The first President of the OC was Giorgio Grigolli (President of the Region) and Moggio was the General Secretary. 

Another decisive aspect for Marcialonga, was being located in a context where collaboration had always been a fundamental value. Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa were two small mountain vallyes, with genuine people, used to work hard. There had always been quarrels between neighbors, but in the moments of need, these would be put aside for the common good. 

All perfectly fit together: the Olympic victory of Franco Nones, the trip to Vasaloppet, the will to organize such an event, the enthusiasm of people, a unique landscape and a territory with people willing people. 

On the 7th February 1971, the first edition of Marcialonga took place. 650 people helped at the event, 3 helicopters were used, 2 snow-cats, 10 ski-doos, 10 ambulances, 20 busses to transfer participants, 10 service cars. 
Amongst the celebrities present at the first edition we find Cesare Maestri, Aldo Moser, Bruno Detassis, Catullo Detassis, Bepi Defrancesch, Erich Pihkala (Finnish explorer). Also Maria Fida Moro, daughter of Aldo Moro was present, but as a spectator because women were not allowed to participate yet.

The start was in Moena and the track would turn already between Mazzin and Pera di Fassa, going back to Val di Fiemme reaching Molina, the Castello uphill, finishing in Cavalese for a total of 65,5 km. Ulrico Kostner was the first winner of Marcialonga, preceeding Franco Nones and Franco Manfroi. There were 1157  skiers at the start. 

From this moment on, cross-country skiing becomes a mass-sport, and so Marcialonga grows bigger and bigger in success. 

Participating to Marcialonga means being protagonist of its history and of the evolution of cross-country skiing. Marcialonga enters the heart of every single participant, experiencing personally the enthusiasm of those four friends and their dream and vision.

In the picture: Franco Nones congratulates with Ulrico Kostner for his victory, Franco Manfroi on the other side. 



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