Tenacious and humble with remarkable reflexes and stability, 27-year-old Arianna Fontana from Berbenno (Bergamo) just beat the South Korean Choi Minjeong, who was then disqualified in favor of the Dutch Van Kerkhof, on the 500 meters short track of speed skating at Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Fontana, a blonde whirlwind who first strapped on a pair of ice skates when she was four, at 15 had already won the European Championships and went on to claim medals in four different Winter Games, joining the Canadian Tania Vicent as the only female short tracker to do so, and now she has finally reached her golden objective after the silver in Sochi (2014) and four bronzes.
This time she immediately took the lead among the Dutch, Canadian, Chinese, Koreas, and British skaters setting the pace of the 500 meters speed skating final, but she seemed to cross the line simultaneously with the South Korean skater. In the end, the photo-finish showed that Fontana had forced her skate tip forward to cross the finish line first. The referees subsequently assessed a penalty to Choi assigning the silver medal to Van Kerkhof and allowing the Canadian Boutin to step onto the podium. Fontana said: “I was chasing it and I finally got it,” and she did it in just over 40 seconds, the culmination of the last four years of hard work, diet, fitness schedule, all precisely tuned to bring her to her peak at just the right moment.
Somewhere in the arena, Anthony Lobello, her American husband who moved to Italy for her, cheered his wife’s accomplishment.
Ilona Catani Scarlett