Lausanne, Switzerland


Short Track Speed Skater Martina Valcepina remains a force in the Ladies’ 3000m Relay – and has a strong Italian team alongside her to strengthen her chances of success.

Valcenpina and her teammates – Cynthia Mascitto, Nicole Botter Gomez, and Olympic 500m champion Arianna Fontana – brought home the gold medal for Italy at the Nippon Gaishi Arena in Nagoya, Japan for the nation’s first ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating Ladies’ Relay victory since the 2015/16 season.

It’s been a good event, historically, for Valcepina: she won Relay bronze at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and followed it up with a silver at PyeongChang 2018.

Elena Viviani Martina Valcepina Lucia Peretti and Arianna Fontana ITA WOG 2014 Getty Images 470136375

Team Italy at the Winter Olympic Games 2014©Getty Images

And although the Beijing 2022 Games are still a while off, she feels ready to keep pushing for the gold medal.

“I hope that I will arrive there with the level to be able to compete with the elite athletes, and then we’ll see where we are at,” she said.

“We are trying to work to keep the high level in the Relay, also with the youngsters who are coming through. I feel good about it.”

Valcepina first competed in ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in the 2008/09 season, and it’s almost 10 years since she made her stunning Olympic debut in Vancouver as a 17-year-old – the youngest Italian athlete in any sport to compete at those Games. Valcepina was part of the Italy Ladies’ Relay squad that finished a respectable sixth with average age of 21.

The mother-of-two, whose younger sister Arianna has also represented Italy in Short Track Speed Skating, took time away from the sport following the Sochi Games to give birth to her twin daughters.

“I grew up as an athlete, and as a person, compared with 10 years ago, and I feel like a more complete athlete having come almost 360 degrees,” she said.

Motherhood, Valcepina has found, has brought her a new positivity on and off the ice, and has helped her feel much more comfortable taking her place among Short Track Speed Skating’s elite skaters.

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Martina Valcepina (ITA) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (USA) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

“I can balance training and my private life and being with my kids makes me feel relaxed and able to perform at this level,” she said.

“I spend as much time as possible with them when I’m home, but I miss them a lot (when competing).

“I didn’t know at the beginning if I could come back but I felt that I could still give something so I gradually came back. It seems to be working well.”

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Martina Valcepina (ITA) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (USA) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

She’s right: as well as her team’s Relay victory in Japan, Valcepina enjoyed individual success at the first two World Cup events of 2019/20 – winning Ladies’ 500m gold in Salt Lake City, and taking silver in the same event in Montreal the following week.

“I had a really good feeling in the Montreal and Salt Lake City World Cups, with the ice and my entire being,” she said in Nagoya, adding that her renewed prosperity in competition, while looking after young daughters, might prove helpful to her female contemporaries.

“I hope that there might be other athletes who could see me as an example to follow,” she said.