Matteo Anesi, champion skater
A journey that began on the Lakes of Pinè
He was just 21 years old when, to thunderous applause and tears of joy, he crossed the finishing line at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, winning an Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit event. “I was young, I couldn’t fully grasp what we had accomplished, but it was incredibly emotional”, explains Matteo Anesi, the speed skating champion from Baselga di Pinè.
Now, Matteo is all grown up. He works in Italy’s Guardia di Finanza and has become a coach and coordinator of the National Teams. He traded in his skates in February 2014, when he crossed the finishing line at the Sochi Olympics and gave up competing to coach instead; and, “as a hobby, I’m doing a degree in Economics and on-line commerce, which I will soon complete,” adds Matteo.
Head, heart, and herculean efforts have gone into achieving his goals. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Matteo sat at an elementary school desk, writing an essay on what he wanted to be when he grew up: “a professional skater”, like his hero at the time, Roberto Sighel, the first Italian winner of a world title in the history of speed skating, and from Matteo's hometown.
Matteo discovered his love of skating on an ice rink in Val di Sole, where he gained confidence on his blades. “My mother is from Val di Sole”, explains the former athlete from Trentino. Training in earnest, however, began later at the Ice Rink Pinè; while some of his best skating experiences were with his family on Lake Serraia.
“I've skated on lakes ever since I was little, and it’s a wonderful feeling, quite different from skating on a rink”, continues Matteo “you have no boundaries, no limits. You have this incredible sense of freedom. Drinking a hot chocolate at the café, admiring the lake, with your skates on your feet: it’s priceless”.
Then came the high school years, when Matteo was kept busy with a combination of international competitions and homework. “I trained a lot and competed all over the world, I was even in Japan. Those were very busy years. In October, I would go to Bavaria with the team to train”.
Then came his triumph at the Turin Olympics: “Winning at home was something truly extraordinary”. Skating has meant a lot to Matteo: excitement, victory, love; but also disappointment and anger, inevitably.
In total, Matteo has taken part in four Olympic games, three as an athlete and one as a coach.
“It was in the rink that I met my wife, Marrit Leenstra”, Matteo reminisces with emotion, “my wife is a top athlete, from the Netherlands. She achieved her ultimate goal in 2018, when she won her first individual Olympic medal in Pyeongchang”.
Now, Matteo looks out over the lake from his apartment every morning as he sips his coffee: “there is no better feeling”. For him, the lake is everything. He walks, runs, and trains by the shores of the lake, as well as swimming there and playing beach volleyball with friends. It’s undeniable that the lake holds a special place in his heart.