The Coop Cross Country FIS World Cup

The Coop Cross Country FIS World Cup

Over 300 cross country ski champions from over 20 countries, including the USA, Japan, Russia, Norway, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Italy, came to Cogne to take part in the Coop Cross Country FIS World Cup on the 16 and 17 of February. Heartfulness, a silver sponsor of the event, offered all athletes and staff the opportunity to experience the ‘Reach Your Peak’ challenge.

Cross country skiing is known for its camaraderie, and the bonds and support shared by many of the athletes were clear to see. The people of Cogne also provided a wonderful and warm welcome to their beautiful valley. The lovely weather and sunny days reflected the joy of the athletes and the thousands of enthusiastic spectators who cheered their teams to success. Coverage of this high-profile event beamed around the world as the skiers put their hearts and souls into achieving their best.

The Heartfulness presence was strong throughout the town, and included offering Relaxation sessions in hotels, a Heartfulness stand for general information, high profile banners throughout the course and a video for spectators on the large screen. All competitors received a copy of the Heartfulness magazine. Many Heartfulness volunteers gathered to provide a plethora of languages, which included English, Italian, French, German and Russian, making communication easy for as many nationalities as possible. This coming together of so many volunteers from different countries really symbolizes the international and inclusive spirit of Heartfulness.

Although the link between meditation and sport may not be an obvious one, many top athletes and sportspeople are turning to meditation to help them stay calm and focused. A combination of increasing levels of competition, higher levels of public exposure, and rising distractions are putting extra stress on athletes. The organizers of the Cogne competition were delighted that the Heartfulness Institute was present at the event, and many athletes and team members took up the challenge to try Relaxation and Meditation. All those who took part enjoyed their experience and many felt they were able to relax very deeply.

The Women’s Sprint Champion, Jessica Diggens from the USA, said, “I think it’s very cool that you guys are doing this,” and thanked us for the magazine and our participation in the event.

Athletes have their own ways of managing the stresses of competitive sport. Italian team member, Elisa Brocard, explained that she either relaxes to music or spends time with her family, whilst Jovian Hediger from Switzerland uses physiotherapy. Logan Hanneman from the USA also listens to music and works alongside his sport, which he finds helpful in distracting him from the pressures of competition. He laughed as he explained that he also dreams about flying and looking at airplanes as “otherwise you spend a lot of energy thinking about things you cannot control!”

It was a joy and privilege to be with these young athletes who seem wise beyond their years, perhaps as a natural result of the daily pressures of their competitive environment.

Marco Albarello, Event Manager of the World Cup in Cogne, and former Olympic Cross Country Champion, answered the questions of Sylvie Berti Rossi:

Q: Hello Marco Albarello, are you happy with this World Cup?

MA: Yes, I am very happy with the audience. The public is important for athletes, for their identity, it is something that touches their hearts and allows them to give even more to achieve the final result. The representatives of the International Ski Federation and the organizers on the track are also very happy.

Q: When you were a professional sportsman, did you practice Yoga or meditation?

MA: Yes. At the beginning of my career, when I was world champion, I practiced Yoga, for example in Oberstdorf in 1987. I was really one of the first. I was able to relax very well in my room, but on the track, I was a little more tense!

Q: And did the practice of yoga help you to concentrate better during sports events?

MA: It is absolutely essential in high-level competition to find who you are in your heart, and from there make the connection with the mind. If there is no such encounter between the heart and the mind, no results are obtained.

Q: As an official sponsor of the World Cup, we offered athletes the opportunity to experience Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation. Members of the French, Italian and American teams tried the experiment. Do you think that was a plus for the competition?

MA: The main author of this initiative is my friend Ruben Montagnoli, whom you know well. He was very young when we met, and we were collaborating in the organization of the ski championships. He is someone who thinks, talks little and works. His personality, and especially the calm he has when facing difficulties, allows him to bring something more to the whole team. And that’s what he did today. He brings calm to the people who work with us. Relaxation, Yoga and all these techniques that affect what you have in your heart help teams to give their best.

Q: When you were competing, what did you want to bring to the audience that loved, followed and supported you?

MA: I didn’t like to put myself forward, to put myself in the spotlight; I was a little reserved. But I managed to give 50% of my time to advertising, to the image and I spent the rest of my time working, not being seen. It’s the right mix to find. If you are too above your soul, you will never be able to be at the level of those around you, nor to really find what you have inside.

Q: So you have to be authentic.

MA: Absolutely, it’s not a question of visibility or media exposure, it’s something you have to find inside yourself.


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