A student-athlete from Edge School will achieve a lifelong goal much earlier than she probably expected.
Fifteen-year-old alpine skier Alessandra Cicalese is gearing up to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics as a member of the Portuguese national ski team. She said the opportunity to represent Portugal – her mother’s native country – emerged after her father emailed the country's winter sports federation to see if she would be eligible to compete for them in Beijing next year. She was approved after the federation asked to review her racing times.
“It’s exciting but also a bit scary, because I’ll be pretty young,” said Cicalese, who is also a Portuguese citizen. “But it’s a great opportunity and has always been a dream of mine.”
A Calgary resident for the last 14 years, Cicalese got into skiing at the age of three. She started racing just a year later, and hasn't looked back.
“I’ve always loved the feeling in the start gate, [before] a race,” she said. “Everything [about it] is really exciting. I love being in the mountains and having nature around.”
Cicalese joined Edge School – a private school in Springbank that caters to elite-level student-athletes – in Grade 6, initially participating in the school’s soccer program. However, as her alpine racing career took off, she eventually shifted gears and now focuses exclusively on her skiing.
Attending Edge School has been beneficial to her athletic development, according to Cicalese, as it provided her the flexibility to pursue her sport more seriously. Cicalese trains throughout the week at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, and also travels to Lake Louise regularly for additional training on the weekends.
“It has helped that I don’t have to worry about academics when I miss days of school [to train or compete],” she said. “They keep me on track so I don’t have to worry about that.”
With the opportunity to compete at the Beijing Olympics next year, Cicalese said she and her family will be moving to Italy nex week, where she will be able to compete in International Ski Federation events, while training regularly and attending an international school.
“It’s pretty exciting because there are new opportunities there, more races and new experiences,” she said of the chance to move overseas.
After an entire winter without being able to compete due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cicalese said she is looking forward to relocating to Europe, where alpine racing has been able to resume.
“This year, quite a few [races] went on but in Canada, I didn’t get a race at all this year, which sucked,” she said. “In Italy, I’m sure once I get there, there will be quite a few races.”
The 2022 Winter Olympics will held in Beijing from Feb. 4 to 20. The alpine ski racing will take place at the National Alpine Skiing Centre at Xiaohaituo Mountain, about 90 kilometres from China's capital city.