Elena Fanchini, an Italian Alpine skier whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.
Fanchini, the 2005 World downhill silver medalist at age 19, passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.
Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in the combined.
It was just after the medal ceremony when the team gathered for dinner Wednesday that the news about Fanchini’s death was relayed to the skiers.
“My heart wasn’t prepared to experience so many emotions,” Bassino wrote on Instagram.
Fanchini’s funeral will be held Saturday at the exact same time as the women’s downhill in Meribel — a race in which Sofia Goggia will be favored to earn Italy its third gold in as many women’s races.
Goggia and the other Italian racers wore black armbands during Thursday’s downhill training session.
“We all cried together when we heard the news,” Goggia said. “We’re going to put everything we’ve got into this race. Elena certainly would have wanted that. … We’re definitely going to give something extra during the downhill.”
Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.
Fanchini won her world downhill silver medal in Italy in 2005, exactly one month after her World Cup debut, an astonishing breakout.
Ten months later, she won a World Cup downhill in Canada with “Ciao Mamma” scribbled on face tape to guard against 1-degree temperatures. She was 20. Nobody younger than 21 has won a World Cup downhill since. Her second and final World Cup win, also a downhill, came more than nine years later.
In between her two World Cup wins, Fanchini raced at three Olympics with a best finish of 12th in the downhill in 2014. She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.
Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.
This was a day filled with emotions. There is so much I’d like to share… but what weighs the heaviest is the loss of @elenafanchini. I’m sending my condolences to the whole Fanchini Family, who have had such a strong impact on our sport and world with their passion and kindness. pic.twitter.com/gmsLPVHX4I— Mikaela Shiffrin (@MikaelaShiffrin) February 8, 2023