07/02/16 - "I'm back"

327 days.

That's how many days have passed since the last memorable appearance of Arianna at the World Cup that took place in Moscow last March.

The waiting finally ended on Friday, February 5th: Arianna returned to compete in an official competition of Short Track. In fact, she took part to the fifth stage of the World Cup in Dresden. As she always says, personal goals are always left aside in order to leave space to group goals.

"I am at 60-70% of my fitness condition but I aim to support my team by trying to help them to qualify to the World Cup that will take place in Seoul"
Friday begins with an unlucky disqualification in the first round of the 500 m race due to a false start. There is no time to get desperate; in fact, there is the need to reach the maximum concentration for the relay that will take place a few hours later: the presence of 17 national teams is reflected with a very busy schedule made of qualifiers, quarterfinals, semifinals and final.
After qualifying for the quarters finals by concluding the battery in second place behind the Netherlands; Arianna & Co. face a tough quarterfinal against the favorite teams of Canada and Korea.
After a very tight race, the Italian team ends in third place just behind Canada and Korea. However, the time of 4.11.871 allows them to qualify for the semifinals as one of the best thirds.

Saturday 6th is the day of semifinals.
In the first semifinal, Korea and Canada were disqualified because of a misconduct against the Hungarian team which was promoted to the final alongside with Japan.
In the second semifinal, the Italian team lead by Arianna, Elena Viviani, Cecilia Maffei, and Arianna Valcepina has to face China, Russia and Germany.
It seems to be an attacking race for Italy, which remains in second position close to China until 15 laps to go. The team is then overlapped by Russia which takes the third place but when there are only 8 laps remaining Arianna brings Italy back in second position.
The bell of the final lap rings: this is the moment when Arianna reminds everyone who she is.
She overtakes from outside the Chinese Tao (who will also be overlapped by the Russian Konstantinova) and reaches first place: Italy is in the final, along with the emerging Russia, Hungary and Japan, without the big favorites Canada, Korea and China.

Sunday, at 16:30, everything is all set for the Final A.
Gouadec confirms the quartet of the semifinal. The girls immediately start strong by forcing the pace of the other national teams. Russia is victim of a fall and despite having a lap down, they are able to place themselves between Japan (third) and the leading duo represented by Italy and Hungary that took the opportunity to leave everyone behind.
At 8 laps to go, Arianna make her best effort and overlaps the Hungarian Backsai: they will only see her again at the finish line.

The girls of the Short Track win another historic gold medal: the last time was on December 4th, 2011 in Nagoya, exactly 1327 days ago. Because 1327 is just 327 without the number 1.
That number 1 who can finally whisper: “I’m back”.