Michela Figini, the unfortunate heroine in the fabulous 1987 World Championships in Crans-Montana, is back this weekend in a place that has witnessed her sporting achievements in the past. The ex-athlete from Ticino hopes with all her heart that Crans-Montana will have the opportunity to relive the same emotions 40 years on.
Talking to Michela Figini is quite simply talking to a legend. An alpine skiing legend who has managed to keep her head on her shoulders, and above all, who has never wanted to play the star. The 55-year-old from Ticino, Olympic downhill champion at the age of 17 (!) in Sarajevo, and two-time winner of the Crystal Globe, has steered clear of the media spotlight for many years, however she agreed to confide in us during her return to Crans-Montana, 35 years after the epic World Championships, during which she was upstaged by Maria Walliser (finishing with two silver medals). And the skier with 26 World Cup victories (46 podium places) to her name, who retired before she was 24, hopes that the Valais resort will once again be able to thrill its favourite athletes in 2027.
Michela Figini, you’re back in Crans-Montana 35 years after the legendary World Championships. What do these memories mean to you?
They’re wonderful memories indeed. Taking part in the World Championships in Crans-Montana was very special for me, of course, but it was also special for the whole Swiss team. Personally, I expected more from myself... I saw the gold vanish in front of my eyes, but the memories are still incredible.
So what do you remember?
The audience here is magical. Back in 1987, it was just like today ! Flags were flying, people were shouting and it was pure emotion.
Are the 1987 World Championships the best memory of your career?
It's clear that they are one of my most cherished memories. I also remember the Olympic Games in Sarajevo at the beginning of my career, in 1984 (editor's note: she won gold in the downhill and at 17, became the youngest Olympic champion in history). But I ended up with fantastic memories from Crans-Montana. On top of that, my family was there, although they don't usually come to any races. That was a real plus.
So do you think that another World Championships in Crans-Montana in 2027 is a good project?
I really hope, with all my heart, that the World Championships will be held here in 2027. I understand that the organising committee is working very hard to get them. Whatever happens, it’s always a very special event for the athletes, and the races are even more special for those competing at home. It’s also a great opportunity for the local population, so it would be truly wonderful if the World Championships returned to Crans-Montana.
Are you still a keen spectator of alpine skiing?
I'm mainly a television viewer from my sofa at home (laughs). But seriously, I'm very happy to be in Crans-Montana this weekend because I hardly ever go to races anymore. And here I am, enjoying a wonderful day!
You’re quite discreet.
Indeed…I don’t do much with the media. It's not my thing anymore. Life changes.
How long has it been since you last came to Crans-Montana?
I did come in summer once, but that was a long time ago. But I haven't been here in winter since the last races I competed in (in 1987).
And are you pleased to see Swiss skiing doing so well at the moment?
I really enjoyed watching the Olympic Games. To end up with all these medals, it was really extraordinary. Also all the athletes are really friendly, always available and they work hard, it’s so nice.
Video: SkiActu (in French only)