Daniel, let's start from your origins. A taste for hard work and adrenaline, a passion for sport and for the mountains. Where does it come from?
"I've always lived in Resinelli, a pre-alpine plateau in the province of Lecco. My parents are originally from Valfurva and Valdidentro. My father Nicola, a cook, and my mother Marilena, a waitress, managed the Carlo Porta Refuge in the early eighties. It was my home for twenty years, I learned everything. Then came the sport thanks to the cross-country skiing champion Ermanno Riva who involved me in the Alta Brianza ski club".
Those were the years in which you approached winter triathlon. How did you fall in love with it?
"It was love at first sight. I loved running and biking through the mountains, and when I could I skied. Combining the three disciplines was great. You start in the valley, ride your mountain bike up, and then start skiing when you find snow. Amazing. The results have been great. I won the national championships seven years in a row. And in 2005 in Štrbské Pleso, Slovakia, I won gold as an under-23. In that race, there were also the "pros" and I arrived ahead of them as well. I feel like world champion even if they gave me the gold only for the under 23 category".
In your career also the army plays an important role. How do you find living between Courmayeur and your Resinelli plans?
"Currently the army allows me to devote myself full time to the activity of athlete and it is a great satisfaction. I joined the army as a winter triathlon athlete following in the footsteps of Paolo Riva, son of my coach Ermanno and champion in the 1990s. Thanks to the Courmayeur Army Sports Center, I have the opportunity to train together with many great winter sports champions.
And so little by little you became a champion in mountain running as well. What are your favourite races?
"Maybe because of my passion for the shaggy towers of the Grignetta, I feel good in the technical passages. That's why I would like this season to try everything on the Skyrunner World Series. They are the hardest races, I tried them for the first time two years ago and the results were good. Let's hope that Covid will allow us to do it".
So you already have your season goal in your head.
(laughs, ed.). "Yes, they have included in the circuit the Grigne Skymarathon, the historic return of an epic race that had been stopped for a few years. I will run at home, I will give my best".
Going back to the past, which was the race that will stay with you forever?
"The 2019 Matterhorn Ultraks Extreme is definitely the race I'll never forget because in addition to having a unique, highly technical course in a very impressive setting at the foot of the Matterhorn, I ran it carrying in my mind and heart a dear friend who had passed away a few days earlier. It was my first victory in the Skyrunner World Series circuit, and I dedicated it to him".
Let's say that your relationship with your mountains is truly visceral. Those who know you describe you as a "mountain man", do you recognize yourself in this representation?
"When I train and am free, I love to be alone, to return to my lands and to my nature, to the animals. My partner Alice has been passionate about beekeeping for some time, she started with a couple of hives and now she has about forty. And then: if there is a photo I like of myself, it is the one with one of my donkeys on my shoulders. I hope I can continue to run for a long time to come, but when I have to hang up my professional shoes, I'm sure I'll be back in my woods, surrounded by the nature I love every day".
Photo Credits: Maurizio Torri, Giacomo Meneghello