By VeloNews Interactive
Two-time world downhill mountain bike champion Giovanna Bonazzi is competing in the Winter X Games this week in Aspen, Colorado. But it wasn’t her two rainbow jerseys in downhill that got Bonazzi an in at the invitation-only event.
Bonazzi’s third-place finish in last year’s European Skicross Championship in Westenrdof, Austria paved the way for qualification into this year’s X Games.
“I feel like I’ve already won, being one of just 16 athletes to be selected for such a spectacular event,” said Bonazzi. “There’s always a big element of danger in these types of events, and I’m not as young as some of the other competitors, but the passion for the sport is still stronger than ever, whether I’m racing on the bike or the skis. Being the only Italian at the race is also very satisfying for me”
Racing for Team Nordica, Bonazzi is very enthusiastic about her chances. “In this type of discipline the start is the most important part of the race, and once at full speed passing will be very hard. I reckon 80 percent of the outcome is decided within the first 30-40 meters of the race. I’m confident that the equipment that I am using is the fastest around.”
The Skicross event is a new discipline in skiing. As with Bordercross, it’s a four-up start on a short, technically demanding course with many jumps and obstacles to negotiate. It is not unusual to see speeds top 90kph! The first and second-place finishers from each heat progress to the next round with the latter eliminated from the competition.
Last time Bonazzi mixed her ardor for snow and bikes was in ’95 when she recorded a new world speed record on snow posting a max speed of 142.63kph. A year later she was back and going faster still with a speed of 158.23kph.
After winning world’s in 1991 and ’93, Bonazzi, now 35, retired from the pro ranks of mountain biking in 1999. She works full-time as a marketing coordinator Cannondale. Still active in the sport, however, Bonazzi won the Italian national downhill championship last year.