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25 Nov 2015
Lillehammer 2016 , YOG , IOC News

Mauro Calcagno aims for success in Lillehammer

Carolina Cabella was a Young Reporter for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, and will be reporting once again on Lillehammer 2016. In the run-up to the Games, she caught up with fellow Argentinean Mauro Calcagno, who is one of the few Argentineans on skates.

For the very first time in history, Argentina will have an athlete competing in figure skating at an Olympic event, at the second edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games that will take place from 12 to 21 February 2016 in Lillehammer, Norway.

The 15-year-old Mauro Calcagno, born in Bariloche, a city in the province of Río Negro, located in the south of Argentina at the northern edge of Patagonia, got involved in sport because, as a young boy, he was deemed overweight.

“The doctor recommended to my mother that I should start exercising at least three times a week. Therefore, I tried football, tennis and swimming, but none of them attracted me,” Mauro said.

At the age of 11 he finally found his true passion: figure skating.

“Before I started skating, I danced Italian, Croatian, Austrian and Swiss dances at the Festival of European Collectivities in Bariloche. I liked dancing and music, so I could combine both of them in figure skating, as well as the adrenaline and the speed which I loved.”

Right from the beginning, he stood out from the rest of the competitors. In 2013 and 2014, Mauro finished with the best score among the boys at the National Championships and he even surpassed the achievements of skaters from two higher categories. In addition, in 2015, he was placed second.

“The sport is divided in categories by level and not by age. I could be competing in a higher category just like a 21-year-old.”

Currently ranked as the second best skater in Argentina, Mauro trains in his hometown in a skating arena which has smaller dimensions than the international ones; and on top of that, it has two columns in the middle to hold up the ceiling. 

“It is a challenge for us. But we are happy with the accomplishments I’ve made so far, taking into account the conditions that we have, even though we would like to practise on an Olympic sized-rink.

“In the afternoons, there are a lot of people skating, so sometimes I practise at seven in the morning and go back in the evening for the second training session.  On Mondays I go to Villa La Angostura, which is one hour away from Bariloche, where there is a bigger rink without columns, and I can perform better.”

Calcagno, who is coached by Estrella Marinucci, admits that he never thought about qualifying for the Youth Olympic Games. Now, with a secured spot on the Argentinean team for Lillehammer 2016, he is training to progress and improve as an athlete every day: “I practise in and out of the rink. When I am not polishing my technique, I’m working on my physical fitness and stretching. What I can’t do because of the size of the rink, I try to complement with other activities such as yoga and spinning. The training sessions are really exhausting, but I am doing everything I can to rise to the occasion, although I don’t have the best conditions.”

Calcagno has some international experience, having finished sixth out of nine competitors at July’s Skate Milwaukee, in the United States of America. “It was my first experience competing abroad, and I am very happy with the results. It was also my first competition on a big skating rink, and I am pleased with the outcome.”

In Argentina there is only one rink with the official measures, which is located in Ushuaia, the southernmost province of the country. As it is not roofed, it is opened only during the South American winter, and the quality of the ice is not good because there are no appropriate machines to clean and smooth the surface. “Figure skating has little exposure in Argentina. There is a huge difference competing at an international level, and the ice is completely different. I would have liked to have more competitions to prepare for the Games in order to try new elements and different jumps. The lack of competition prevents me from taking risks, because I have to perform well to be able to have a good ranking.”

In January, Mauro is going to travel to Italy to adapt to the Olympic rink’s ice and size, and practise the choreographies with all the elements he will be using in Lillehammer: “The competition will be very tough, but I will try my best, take the best out of this experience and enjoy the moment that I’ve been working so hard for.”

Against all odds, Mauro Calcagno has come a long way thanks to his hard work, effort and determination. He’s got a bright future ahead of him, and Lillehammer will be just the beginning for this rising athlete. 

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