- LA MAISON
- LA VIE
Alba and Michele: From the Farm to the Podium
It’s the middle of June 2022, and the heat in Sondrio, a town in the Italian Alps some 30 km from Lake Como, is weighing heavy. Piazza Garibaldi is swathed in full sun, the small narrow streets that join offer shade and an unexpected freshness from the cool stone buildings. The twenty thousand or so inhabitants of the town mostly live in the heart of the Valtellina valley, others live perched on the mountainside in small groups of houses.
In the middle of the afternoon, in one of these small hamlets, two individuals dressed from head to toe in strange white overalls and helmets are moving somewhat robotically below an old stone farmhouse.
In the meadow, on the edge of a wood, multi-coloured cubes are placed side-by-side on the ground, our two ‘spacemen’ are busy a few meters away at the foot of a tree. A dark spot on one of the lowest branches of a tree seems to be the centre of all their attention, at their feet, one of these coloured boxes. These boxes are, it appears on closer inspection, beehives and the two humanoids are beekeepers. With the high heat, the entire population of a hive chose to up-sticks and settle in the branches of a nearby tree.
For two days, the humanoids have been hassling the honeybees to hurry home safely. Their technique is a bizarre ritual for the novices that we are, observing the scene a few meters away. The swarm will eventually fall in one block back into the hive, regaining possession of their home, but until when who knows? We do know though who these two extra-terrestrials really are. We are more accustomed to seeing them in their Italian national team kit, participating in the biggest races in the world, rather than beekeeping. And for those who know the discipline, for those who have already tried ski mountaineering, the title of extra-terrestrial suits them perfectly, dominating the sport in super-human style.
Alba di Silvestro and Michele Boscacci both belong to the elite circle of the best in the world on the skimo calendar. When we talk about their success, both humbly temper our remarks. Perhaps because the mountain has always encouraged humility, perhaps because they are not quick to show off. Happier to be busy with their bees. These two athletes display an astonishing serenity: Alba and Michele share everything, in life and in their training schedule.
"When we run in the mountains, we start together, after a while I accelerate, I go up a little higher than Alba and then we meet again when I come down..." says Michele.
For having followed them on their bikes up the Stelvio Pass, the two are not really laughing in training, to say the least. Michele explains to us that his father, the equally famous Graziano Boscacci, still takes care of his physical preparation.
“In my entire career, I have never injured myself. I ask my father for advice when there are moments when my form dips, then we ease off a bit in training, we reduce the load while waiting for the tiredness to fade”. A simple secret of an indisputable success, at the world level Alba is the third best skier, Michele quite simply the best in 2022. They command huge respect.
Graziano, the village carpenter, did not only transmit his passion for ski mountaineering to his son, Michele inherited from him the love of the land. Six years ago, Michele built a barn to put three cows in. The three cows have since turned into a small herd. Proud of his allotment, he takes us on a tour of the barn where the magnificent animals feed.
In winter, when the competitions are in full swing, it is Michele's grandfather who comes to tend to the cows. And Alba too has been dedicated to her herd of bees since last spring. No less than 11 hives are at her disposal, enough to ensure a production of just over 200 kg of honey per year!
“A friend started keeping bees and I liked the idea. She offered me some online training, and my new passion was born.”
Living alongside the bees and the cows, the couple operates 12 hectares of land, dedicated to the cultivation of organic produce. Seeing Alba's smile at the wheel of the tractor, we understand that they adapt well to this farming life. Far from being a hindrance on their professional sporting careers, it even seems to be an integral part of their balance.
In a few months, the snow will cover the farm, the bees of Alba will join forces to raise the temperature in the hive and survive winter, the cows of Michele will come down from the pastures and find the warmth of the barn. At the same time, our two farmers will begin competing, skis on their feet this time, at the biggest skimo races in the world, channelling their inner animal instinct.
Passo dello Stelvio
Passo dello Stelvio’s switchbacks are to the road rider, professional or amateur, mythically charged, intimidating yet alluring, devilishly tough yet heaven-scented.
Alongside skiing, my other passion has been MTB and now road riding. I use riding my bike as pre-season training and I train with Alba a lot on the bike; it allows us to spend time together and have fun whilst still ‘working’ at our own pace.
Alba de Silvestro
For me there’s only one difference between cycling and skimo, it’s just the season. One is for winter and the other is for summer.
Anton Krupicka: Mount Blue Sky
Mount Blue Sky sits at an elevation of 14,265 feet (4,348m) above sea level. The road to the summit happens to be the highest paved road in North America and presents a pretty compelling opportunity to cyclists.