The world’s fastest man on skis

More than 30 years since Simone Origone first donned a pair of skis, the Italian this week reached a new speed skiing world record. The Local speaks to him about living an adrenaline-filled life in the mountains.

The world's fastest man on skis
Simone Origone reached 252.4km/h in the French Alps earlier this week. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

Who is Simone Origone?

Simone Origone is the world’s fastest speed skier. Earlier this week the 34-year-old broke his own record by reaching 252.4km/h in the French Alps.

READ MORE: Italian breaks speed skiing world record

That sounds fast!

More than twice as quick as a cheetah, to be precise.

Speed skiing is thought to be the fastest non-motorized land sport and involves a steep drop to pick up speed.

When Origone set the new world record this week, he fell nearly 500m in altitude within a few seconds.

Does he get scared?

Remarkably, no. The only thing Origone is scared of is doing a bad job, he told The Local.

“You are concentrating so much on what you have to do technically,” leaving no room for fear, he said.

His family are described as being “relaxed” about his chosen sport, while Origone said his friends “are happy that I’m doing something I like”.

What’s the point in speed skiing?

“To break the record,” according to Origone, who says the sport is not as dangerous as some imagine. Due to the risks associated with travelling at such speeds, however, speed skiing is not an Olympic sport.

How did Origone get into the sport?

Origone is from the Ayas area in the Aosta Valley, nestled in the Alps close to the French border. As a result he was virtually born on skis.

“I started when I was very young, at about three years old, like everyone who lives here,” he told The Local.

After his parents strapped him into his first pair of skis, he joined the other local children at ski school and went on from there.

He didn’t try out adrenalin-filled speed skiing until the age of 23, however, in the French Alps.

What does he do when he’s not racing down a mountain?

Travel slightly less fast down a mountain.

Origone is a skiing instructor in the Aosta Valley, working with children and adults from both home and abroad.

After the sun goes down he can be found “at the gym or at home”, presumably moving at a normal human pace.

Where would he recommend for a skiing holiday in Italy?

“It’s difficult to say where the best place to ski is,” Origone said, pausing before declaring “where I live!”

For the skiing champion, “the most beautiful places in the world are in the Alps.”

SEE ALSO: Top ten: Italy's best ski resorts

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Italy’s ski season begins with Covid green pass rules in place

Italy’s ski slopes have begun reopening with hopes that Covid-19 passes and other health measures will be enough to prevent closures this year.

Ski lifts in Italy require a health pass.
Ski lifts in Italy require a health pass this year. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Some of Italy’s biggest ski resorts opened for the new season on Wednesday, with Covid-19 green passes required when using ski lifts, social distancing measures in place at entrances and online booking required in some areas.

While Italy’s government did not specify that the green pass would be required on slopes or to take ski lifts this winter, this is one of the rules agreed in a protocol signed last month by Italy’s winter sports federation, association of chairlift operators and association of ski instructors.

The green pass requirement applies to everyone aged over 12 when accessing lifts, capacity is reduced to 80 percent for closed cable cars (open chairlifts can operate at full capacity), and masks are a requirement in all “common areas”, the protocol states.

EXPLAINED: What are the Covid rules on Italian ski slopes this winter?

Italy’s Covid health certificate demonstrates that the holder has either been vaccinated, has recovered from the virus recently or has tested negative.

In the popular ski resort of Cervinia, on the Swiss border, local police and staff were checking green passes and identity documents and no crowds or problems were reported as the lifts opened for the start of the season on Wednesday morning, according to the AGI news agency.

Cervinia has also made it compulsory to buy ski passes online, though this is only a recommendation under the protocol.

At the moment in Cervinia it is only possible to ski on the Plateau Rosa and on the Swiss side, while slopes on the Italian side are still being prepared.

The Swiss government agreed with resorts on Tuesday that that health certificates will not be required on the country’s slopes or to take chairlifts.

In France, the health minister has said he is considering whether to make the health pass compulsory for using ski lifts.

Under rules set by the Italian government, the pass is a requirement for all customers aged over 12 at indoor bars and restaurants. Though not a requirement to enter hotels or accommodation, the pass is needed when accessing hotel restaurants and facilities such as spas.

In addition to the health pass requirement, the standard Italian health rules on masks and distancing will also be in place at all businesses.