Olympic curler Stefania Constantini

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Involved in multiple sports as a child, Stefania Constantini gradually forsook all others on her way to the upcoming Winter Olympics as a member of the Italian curling team.

Italian national team curler Stefania Constantini grew up in Cortina d’Ampezzo, a mountain town well known for winter sports in Veneto’s southern Alps. As a little girl, she swam, played tennis, skied and even danced hip hop, but it was curling that stole her heart at age 8.

“The moment I started playing curling, a spark ignited,” the 22-year-old says. “I began to get more and more passionate, and slowly I began to let go of all other activities to be able to devote myself totally to this sport.”

Constantini made Italian curling history in May, when she and her teammate, Amos Mosaner, earned a direct qualification to the 2022 Beijing Olympics by taking fifth place at the mixed doubles world championship in Scotland.

“My biggest dream has always been to participate in the Olympics,” Constantini says. “This year, I will finally make it happen.”

In Italy, where soccer reigns supreme, many believe curling isn’t very tiring and therefore don’t consider it a real sport, she says.

“Our fatigue is certainly not comparable to that of a cross-country athlete or a marathon runner, but curling is also tiring,” she explains.

Curling matches last between 2 and 2 1/2 hours, during which time athletes skate back and forth along the 40-meter field while sweeping in front of the curling stone to control its direction and speed. In competition, athletes can play two or three games per day.

“Ours is a prolonged fatigue, not limited only to the physical aspect but also to the mental aspect,” she expounds. “In curling, the strategy with which the stones are placed in the field is fundamental, and this leads to having to think without pause for a long period of time.”

A curling team consists of a relatively small number of players — four plus an alternate — so having good chemistry is essential. She also appreciates the level of sportsmanship in curling. “It’s a sport in which fair play is fundamental,” where opponents, for the most part, respect each other and “play clean,” she notes.

Constantini plays for Curling Club Dolomiti, whose coach, Alessandro Zisa, has been instrumental in her success, as has national team coach Violetta Caldart. She also credits the support of her boyfriend, her family, Italian curler Marco Mariani (who now coaches the Chinese women’s curling team) and the Italian Ice Sports Federation.

Constantini has competed in a multitude of tournaments: the Universiade (a multisport event for university athletes offered by the International University Sports Federation), European championships, junior and senior world championships, youth Olympic games and more.

Her latest result at the world championship is one of her most treasured achievements, she says. The other is earning the bronze medal at the 2017 European Championship, her first major international adult competition.

She used to regret missing the team qualification for the 2017 Olympics, but that’s now in the rearview mirror, having been eclipsed by the joy of qualifying for this month’s winter games, she says.

Constantini, who trains every day with the Italian national team, describes herself as very determined and a perfectionist, which she believes are her strengths. She also tends to overthink and overanalyze, which can be weaknesses, she notes.

Constantini works in sales at the North Face store in her hometown, but her goal is to become a professional curler.

Playing in Canada at the 2018 World Championship was a revelation, because curling there is as popular as soccer is in Italy, she says.

“The stadium was always full of people and, at the end of each game, the fans were constantly asking us athletes for autographs and photos, making us feel like stars,” she recalls. “It was a strange but, at the same time, wonderful feeling … hearing the audience so close and feeling so appreciated was a dream.”

She adds, “I would very much like curling to be re-evaluated and respected in Italy in the future.”

The above appears in the February 2022 issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.



About Elena Ferrarin

Elena Ferrarin is a native of Rome who has worked as a journalist in the United States since 2002. She has been a correspondent for Fra Noi for more than a decade. She previously worked as a reporter for The Daily Herald in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, The Regional News in Palos Heights and as a reporter/assistant editor for Reflejos, a Spanish-English newspaper in Arlington Heights. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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