A jangling, searing pain.

Aulo Avanzinelli
Aulo Avanzinelli - Cappella (LU) 19.05.1940

Lie still, don't move a muscle.

To me it was a deafening sound though almost imperceptible to the human ear. But I heard it distinctly even in the commotion while the other competitors were elbowing to get past. I can still hear it. Inside. Echoing, resonating constantly. My bones breaking. I am face down in freezing water gasping with pain. Half of me in the river Avisio and I can hear it clearly. The sound is as bad as the cold.  I'm frozen to the bone. Two instruments of the orchestra, each perfectly tuned, but out of harmony with the rest of the world. Incredibly enraging. This shouldn't have happened after so many Marcialongas, being here, pushed by others onto the banks of the river. Broken.

Be still, don't move.

I calculate the damage, thinking about what to do. Turn off the sound. Nobody seems to be worrying about me, everybody is passing me quickly to get ahead in a vortex of adrenaline and speed. It's still a long way but luckily this year they were forced to shorten the track, due to the lack of snow. How far have I got left? I have already passed Canazei, so I must be in Mazzin heading back. I know that it is too far to carry on with this searing pain in my hip, back and legs. But I can't give up. I am a Senator and I have been for 10 years, I have to get to the end. Losing my title is unthinkable. I am and will remain a Senator. Get up and fight!

I try. I pull myself up. I breathe. I let my body get used to the new situation.  I feel the pain, I let it become part of the battle, I don't fight it. It is useless trying to overcome it, deal with it, make it your friend. It will be your travelling companion, your constant company.


I am a Senator and Senators don't give up. I pick up my skis, even this simple movement uses an enormous amount of energy. I get up screaming. I have to kick off somehow. Ok let's try. I start slowly: legs relaxed, arms loose. I have to find a rhythm that gets me to the end.


I am actually skiing. It is not as cold now, the effort makes me sweat and bleed but at least l can't feel anything. I am frozen inside. Desperation and willpower warms me and moves me forward. I move my limbs. I am in another place, playing another game. I convince myself push after push that this will get me to the end, that I won't collapse before Cavalese. I can't contemplate failing!


I'm skiing. It is not a fluid or refined movement, anything but. I tense with the gripping pain. It is clear I have reached my limit, I am running out of energy to resist the stabbing pain, but I am nearly there. I stretch my arms and continue. Finally it is there, the end of everything, the finishing line of my 20th Marcialonga. The sound is still with me, it has never stopped hammering in my ears. The orchestra has not yet finished playing, I slide to the warped rhythm, I use it, it will carry me to the end.

Concept, interview and text: Susanna Sieff
Photo: Alice Russolo
Video: Graziano Bosin - Dolomiti TV


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