Complaining is always easy.
We focus on what has been taken from us, or changed, without our consent.
But then if we look closely, often we realize that in reality we have been more fortunate than many others.
And with time we learn to appreciate what we have. Because any situation, no matter how unpleasant, can always be interpreted in at least two different ways.
Of course, not being able to conclude last winter’s season with the World Cup finals, was strange. But, nevertheless, we were able to finish a season that for many other sports was simply cut in half.
Like nearly all other athletes in the world, I had to change my plans and my training habits, training inside, at home, in order not to lose my fitness.
But I was also able to spend more time with my family, which has given me so much during my career, and spend as much time as possible playing with my daughter Clea.
In summer it was hard to train alone, far away from team mates, and without attending the usual training retreats around the world.
However, in autumn, I had the good fortune to be able to ski on the glaciers of my beloved Switzerland, on the last beautiful bastions of perennial ice, which is not something everybody has access to in their home country.
When you practice sport at the highest level, you soon learn that staying on top depends on having the perfect mix of many different element.
Physical fitness, experience, knowing the slope, the snow, the equipment, all these contribute to determining the result.
It is a very fine balance, that can be ruined at any moment, and if it weren’t so anybody could be a World Champion.
But they are not.
When you start to know an environment at such a deep level, you accept the negative aspects too. They are often the hidden side of the medal.
It is the very nature of skiing that reveals this side.
I grew up a stone’s throw from a mountain and my first memory of snow, which also happens to be my very first memory in absolute, is rather bittersweet. It was Sunday and we had organized a big family race. Everybody was ready, standing side by side at the start line. The first to reach the bottom wins.
I was five years old, and I was perhaps the youngest, certainly the happiest, that day and everything seemed perfect. The sun, the splendid mountains and the sparkling white snow.
After the start I think I must have fallen about twenty times, before giving up completely and abandoning the race.
I was so angry that I almost forgot about the beauty that surrounded me.
It had completely disappeared.
I will never forget that feeling.
Because the B-side of success is hard work and, from that day on, it has taken me hundreds and hundreds of hours to learn how to ski properly.
I stayed outside training until dark. Every single day, whether it was Sunday or Monday.
To reach the top you need to work a lot.
But those who work a lot make more mistakes than those who work little.
And when making mistakes you risk getting hurt sometimes.
It happened to me, of course.
Perhaps the worst time was in 2012, when, after what seemed like an uncomplicated knee surgery, my body somehow rejected the treatment and I ended up with a serious knee infection. I got through it thanks to the love and support of my family, friends and my partner, but it was a very dark time.
On the other hand, I am also grateful for an injury that lead me to dedicate myself to speed disciplines.
A decision that definitely has paid off.
When I was younger, I struggled a lot in technical races when returning to the slope after a period of rehabilitation.
I was way behind the best, by as much as 4 or 5 seconds, whereas in pure speed races I was able to keep up with my pre-injury performance.
So we decided to shift my attention to downhill and super-G, and in so doing reaping a lot of satisfaction.
Skiing is a tough sport which gives with one hand and takes with the other, but it makes you realize that in the end hard work and success are two sides of the same medal.
One side glitters while the other does not, but they are made from the same material.
The same is true for disappointment and the desire for a come-back.
For the beauty of travel and feeling homesick.
For injuries and self-knowledge.
Sometimes it also applies to friends and opponents, because after many years of racing against each other, you learn to distinguish the challenge on the slope from the affection you have for each other off the slope.
This is what happens between Dominik and me, for example. We have known each other since we started racing as youngsters and often great races have been decided literally on the finish line.
I hope to meet him again and to find him even stronger than last time, because to have him at the gate pushes me every time to bring out the best in me to try to beat him. Perhaps even at the World Championships in Cortina, which will be raced on a track which is new to all of us.
The season ahead will be different from all the others, for millions of reasons, but it will also be the expression of a sport in which victory and defeat, joy and pain, go hand in hand. They are always the same thing, depending on the side you look at.