By Michael Mastarciyan
For Italian racer Mattia Casse - skiing at high speeds is more than just a sport or a pastime – it’s a birthright and way of life.
The son of Italian speed skier Alesandro Casse, who held the world record from 1971 to 1974 (184.237 km/h) , Casse admits he’s inherited his father’s hunger for extreme speed on snow, but instead of focusing on straight-lining he prefers the twists, turns and jumps involved in alpine events such as downhill and super-G.
“My father has had an influence on my choices, but since I was young I’ve loved to go fast,” Casse says.
An alpine missile on the slopes, Casse’s first big impact on the world stage was a gold in downhill and a bronze in super-G at the 2010 FIS Junior World Ski Championships held in France. Not long after, in January 2011, a Europa Cup 3rd place in GS at a race in Germany – a clear sign of more good things to come.
Then, last season, more success with six Europa Cup top 3’s in speed – one of them a victory in downhill.
But Casse’s winning ways didn’t stop there.
A speedster blessed with a fine technical touch, the 22-year-old from Oulx, Italy, also captured gold in super combined at Italian Nationals this past March. We caught up with Mr.Casse recently to discuss his penchant for speed and a few other things….MM: Mattia, you love to go fast on snow just like your father Alessandro did in his sport, is speed in your blood?
MC: Yes for sure! Speed is inside me, speed is my life, my bible, my future!
MM: Have you ever tried Speed Skiing?
MC: No, never, but I would like to in the future
MM: What’s the fastest speed you’ve ever been clocked at?
MC: Wengen - 142km/h.
MM: What do you think is scarier, going fast in a straight line at 185km/h or 142 km/h downhill with bumps, turns and jumps?
MC: I think in a straight line at 185km/h.
MM: Speed is a part of your job, is it part of your life outside ski racing too? What else do you enjoy doing fast? Driving? Eating? Other things?
MC: As I said earlier, speed lives in me, in my daily life everything happens faster and, yes even when I’m eating !
MM: Your first big career moment came in France at the 2010 Junior Worlds, with gold in downhill and bronze in super-G, what was that experience like?
MC: It was encouraging for the future because it was there that I understood that winning was extremely satisfying, but to keep winning I would have to continue working very hard.
MM: You had a great Europa Cup season last year finishing second place in the super-G standings, with six podiums and your first victory on that circuit, that must have very exciting?
MC: For sure, it was more than just exciting, it was great! The best part for me was that I dedicated my first victory and my season to my Mum who passed away in March 2011.
MM: Did you have time to celebrate after your first Europa Cup victory?
MC: Yes of course, I celebrated with my teammates, my girlfriend and my best friends.
MM: You’ve had most of your success in downhill and super-G but have also done well in GS and super combined – do you consider yourself an all-rounder or a speed specialist?
MC: I prefer to be recognized as an all-rounded, but in any case I love speed and I want win in DH!
MM: Where will you do most of your racing this coming season – Europa Cup, World Cup, both?
MC: For sure in WC.
MM: Out of 37 World Cup starts you’ve had 8 top-30 finishes, what do you think you need to do to improve on this?
MC: I’m going to continue working hard but the most important thing for me is to gain more experience and to maintain a high level of concentration – which is tough because I’ve got a big head!
MM: You’ve raced at all the biggest downhill tracks in the world - Kitzbuehel, Wengen, Bormio, Val Gardena, Garmisch. Which one was your favourite and why?
MC: Kitzbuehel! Because it’s the best, the most famous, and the most exciting with an amazing show all around. In my opinion it’s the best DH in the world.
MM: What was it like looking down The Streif out of the start hut before your first run on it?
MC: First thing I thought was, “Please don’t kill me!” Then I calmed down and focused on finishing with a good time, going fast, and gaining experience for next year on The Streif because I want to win there some day!”
MM: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career so far?
MC: NEVER BACK DOWN!
MM: What’s the best ski racing advice you’ve ever been given?
MC: The best that I received and I give is: Never fall down during a DH!
MM: Did you have any favourite ski racers growing up?
MC: Mathias Mayer
MM: If you could ride up a chairlift with any alpine ski racer who would it be and what would you talk about?
MC: It’s simple, with Bode Miller talking about his daily life outside of racing.
MM: If you could have dinner with any person living or dead who wasn’t an alpine ski racer, who would it be and what would you talk about?
MC: With my Dad, talking about life, past and future.
MM: Have you taken any vacation time off since the end of last season? Do anything exciting? Visit any beaches?
MC: Yes of course, I spent a week in Formentera, Spain, what an exciting island! But I’ve spent most of the off season training hard every day because I want to participate in the World Championships in Schladming.
MM: How is off-season training coming along?
MC: Never finished!
All photos private