«How does one greet a superstar?» Conradin Conrad, the publisher, had wondered ahead of the photo shoot. He was expecting one of present day’s greatest athletes in winter sports. The entire crew was on tenterhooks. The photographer Gian Andri Giovanoli had turned the Skiservice shop in Celerina into his photo studio for the day. «The minute Dario Cologna stepped into the shop, though, the nervousness blew away,» Conradin Conrad recollects. «Hi, I’m Dario,» was the world champion and three times Olympic winner’s easy-going greeting.
«Fair, modest, and self-confident,» Gian Gilli says without hesitating as he describes the top athlete. «Dario is the Roger Federer of cross-country skiing.
— IN EVERYTHING
He has many fans in Switzerland and beyond and all teams think highly of him.» Gian Gilli knows what he is talking about: As trainer and Swiss Olympic sports director, he led Swiss teams at 8 Olympic games.
«Aita Gasparin’s future still lies ahead of her. What she has shown so far is very promising,» Gian Gilli notes about the photo shoot’s second guest. «Being the youngest of three, she still races in the lee of her sisters Selina and Elisa. She now has to prove whether she has the tenacity to work her way to and establish herself at the lead.»
Aita is no stranger to the Skiservice team: The young woman from Pontresina often stops by the shop as do her two sisters. The greeting on this summer day was the warm greeting of an old friend. Then, the work began, and both athletes instantaneously focussed on the job. «Working with Dario and Aita was very relaxed and professional. It felt as if we had known Dario for a long time,» the photographer Gian Andri Giovanoli, recollects. «And Aita is very natural and warm. She is always genuine.»
«Aita is thoroughly professional in everything she does, Vegard Bitnes confirms. The Norwegian has been the personal coach of the three Gasparin sisters since 2011. «Aita is catching up with the champions and she has the potential to become one of the really big names.»
The day ended with a firm handshake and a warm smile for everyone on the team. The two sportspeople said their goodbyes as quietly as they had come in. Skiservice wishes both of them a successful season!