Gianluca Marcolini from Frassinoro, Italy is one of the top ski technicians working in biathlon at the moment. Previously he worked in cross country skiing and was ski technician to the likes of Stefania Belmondo and Dario Cologna. In 2013 he switched to biathlon to work with the Russian team in the run up to and during the Sochi Olympics. In 2014 he took up a position with the Norwegian team and he kindly took some time to talk to me about his job.
You can follow Gianluca on Twitter: @marcolinigluca
How did you become a ski technician? Are you just a frustrated athlete or do you prefer the equipment/technical side?
I’ve always been a lover of ski wax and skis as a child, I was an athlete as a young man but always with the passion of a ski technician.
You currently work for Norway. How does an Italian gets a job waxing for the Norwegians?
I work for Norway and I’m proud to work for them. It is the most I can ask, a dream come true. I consider myself privileged to have the honour to work for the number 1 nation in the world.
Have you ever had waxidents (accidents with wax)?
I’ve never had problems with my work, I have always tried to use the maximum precautions.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to be a ski technician?
The advice I could give to a person who wants to start the job of ski/wax tech is just to have a lot of passion and love the job.
What are the best and worst things about being a ski technician?
The best things are when your team wins and I’m able to do my job well. The worst thing for me doesn’t exist if you are supported by a group of wax techs, coaches, staff and athletes with whom you can talk openly, even when you are wrong, to try to find the mistake because that’s the only way you can grow positively.
How much input do biathletes have when choosing wax for skis? Who makes the final decision?
I think it’s important to have a good feeling with the athletes when testing skis both in training and before the race. The final decision for the selection of cross-country skis is taken between the ski technician and the athlete, but many times it takes just the ski tech to choose the skis and the products to be used on the racing skis.
Are you responsible for preparing all the skis or are you assigned to certain biathletes?
I mainly follow three athletes, Johannes Bø, Tarjei Bø and Synnøve Solemdal, but the whole group of ski technicians work together in harmony and help each other.
Describe your typical race weekend? What are your responsibilities, how much time do you spend waxing, tests, etc.?
I do not help on the tracks or shooting range during the race. I think the hours we spend in the ski room are already a lot. There is no timetable to start and finish it’s just when you think you’ve achieved the result you wanted. I sometimes go to help the coaches on track to give supplies to athletes.
Is the world of wax quite secretive? Do you have special formulas that you don’t want other teams to know about?
I try to do my work based on my experience and my professionalism. If I have any product or solution that I feel is good I want only my team using it and I don’t want it to be disclosed to the other teams.
What do you do in summer? Roller skis don’t need wax so what to do until the start of the new season?
In summer I talk with the ski companies, I go to the companies to research and test new skis for next season to try to always have the top skis.
The Italian biathlon team is doing really well right now. Why do you think that is?
I think that the Italian team is working very well both on shooting and on their physical abilities. When the Italians are strong in the race I’m happy, but I’m much happier when the Norwegians win.
Quick fire questions:
Favourite track biathlon: Holmenkollen
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Johannes Bo
Favorite event: (sprint, pursuit, etc.): all of them
Favourite Ski Tech: all of them
Favorite food: Pizza
Favourite singer/band: U2
Favorite Movie: Fast and Furious 6
Favorite team sport: cycling
Favourite TV show: quark
Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!