Published: 02.01.23

Giovanni Kasslatter: "a huge success from the first edition"

GIOVANNI KASSLATTER: Race Director since the first edition

What led you to appoint Giovanni Kasslatter as Race Director of Gardenissima in 1997?

I was approached by the initiator Rudolf Mussner to join the organising committee. Being a great fan of ski racing, I volunteered to take on the role of race director.

How did you take the news of being appointed race director of an event, a race yet to be discovered?

Indeed, it was. We did not know what we were getting into and there was no medium- to long-term planning, let alone a guarantee of success. So, it was a great challenge, which required an extraordinary commitment, but it stimulated and motivated the ambition to organise an event that was more unique than rare. That is why I was happy and proud to be involved in this project.

What were the greatest difficulties in the early years of Gardenissima?

I remember well that 1997 was a year with a lack of snow, the artificial snow systems, of course, were not like those we know today, so until the last moment it was in doubt whether the race, in which over 400 competitors had registered, would take place. Somehow, the first edition was completed without any particular accidents and no injuries. It is curious to note that the second edition was the one with the lowest number of participants, which cast some doubt on the interest of the event itself, a doubt that was soon dispelled from the third edition onwards with a steady increase in the number of participants.

What are the tasks and duties of a race director?

The job is to organise everything that happens on the track and what is needed to make it happen. Starting with snow control and safety. The race director is always supported by people who are experts in the field in every part of the track, among other things procuring the necessary material, organising the start and finish area.

What have been the most significant changes in 25 years?

Given the success since the first edition, the course has remained unchanged with 115 to 118 gates, starting with a parallel slalom and then continuing with a giant slalom. While much has changed in the area of safety, from the protective nets, the number and qualification of rescuers and the presence of a helicopter on site in case of emergency. Undoubtedly, technology has also changed, helping us to improve the professionalism of the event

What have been your greatest satisfactions and most curious anecdotes since 1997?

That of having managed to complete all the editions, including the children's one, which was introduced about ten years ago. Related to this, last year's edition was a half miracle, as it had snowed until around 01.00 in the night. At the start, 70 cm of fresh snow was measured, after which the exceptional and amazing work of the snow groomers began. Among other things, they illuminated the slope so that it could be groomed as early as 05.00 am, unlike the usual time, when the slope was closed to the public the previous afternoon. The last edition was an extraordinary one, as in the morning the adults competed and in the afternoon the children. It is always a pleasure also to note the enthusiasm and positive comments of the co-workers, volunteers, as well as the participants, not least also that we never had to record any major accidents.

What are the prospects for the future?

That the success and enthusiasm around the event will continue.

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