Riccardo Rossetto is, today, the guest of honor of the Portuguese Orienteering Blog. At the age of 24, the Italian faces the challenge of another season with the ambition to do better and win a solid place in the world of MTB orienteering's firmament. Here, he looks on the last World Cup round, projects his feelings about the World MTBO Championships and... keeps his dreams as they are.
The first question is always the easiest. Who is Riccardo Rossetto?
Riccardo Rossetto (R. R.) - I was born in 5th November 1991 in Schio, a small city near the Venetian Prealps, north of Italy. Since I was young, my parents involved me in steep trekking or Alpine Skiing. The only TV programs I was allowed to watch were the Ski World Cup and the Giro d' Italia. Since then I’m an enthusiast of sports, especially Skiing. In my free time, I like to meet little unknown bands’ gigs. I’m attending the last year of Environmental Engineering (Bachelor) in Trento. I share my time between studies and trainings, but fortunately I don’t work.
How did Orienteering come to your life? Was it love at first sight?
R. R. - I’ve ever had the passion for trekking maps. I was used to imagine the reality from the maps and then go through it to see the difference. However, orienteering as a sport came lately in my life: the first time was in the high school, when I tried a short race in couple with a friend. I still remember my disappointment because we finished second although we were really strong in running. We had trouble to find a control, missing the first position. In that period I was doing MTB Cross Country and I didn’t think about a future in this sport. The real MTBO partnership started in 2009.
Could you tell me something else about that “partnership”? Was there a moment, a “click”, when you said to yourself: “That’s it, MTBO is my sport”?
R. R. - So… it started in 2009. In a trip through the Alps I met a friend of my father with a holder on his bike and a touring map inside. I was surprised because I didn’t imagine that would be possible to read a map while biking. I was about to be sick of cross country and I would like to try a new sport. So in September I did my first MTBO race with ASD Misquilenses. The first impact was strange, because I couldn’t read well while biking. However, the result was immediately brilliant. I was surprised and even more that I could easily improve my performances in the following years. Surely, the Junior World MTBO Championship in Italy (2011), where I got a silver medal in the Long Distance, gave me a great impulse to commit myself with the sport. It wasn’t easy at all because I had a knee problem that hindered my trainings and that lasts until the last year.
What do you see in MTBO that makes it so special?
R. R. - The fast decisions you have to make. If you choose wrongly you can lose minutes. It’s mentally hard to decide about the best route choice in a few seconds; sometimes you have to follow your instinct because it's impossible to check all the pros and cons in a detailed way.
In a land of MTBO huge names, what does it mean to be an Italian MTB orienteer and belong to the national team?
R. R. – We are a small team. Usually, we travel with a single van so we stay strictly in contact to each other for 6, 8 weeks a year. It’s like a family where every people counts for the group. Surely Laura Scaravonati, Giaime Origgi and Luca Dallavalle are a reference for me and a great help to improve as athlete.
Is there a MTB orienteer that you see as your idol?
R. R. - Yes, Luca Dallavalle has always been my idol since I started MTBO because, besides being really strong physically, he is also really smart to simplify the map in his head.
What does he have that you (still) don't?
R. R. - A little bit of all.
We could see you performing really well in France, during the World Cup first round. Did you expect the 6th place in the Long Distance?
R. R. - No, I didn’t. It was a race with difficult weather conditions that penalized the last athletes to start. I wasn’t happy with my race because I lost three minutes in the last four controls. After my arrival I saw that also some athletes from the red group had problems in the final controls so I began to think that my race wasn't as bad as that.
Two mispunches in the Middle and the Relay are quite disappointing, I believe. Anyway, would you like to share with us your thoughts about those two races?
R. R. - In the Middle I was trying to push harder than I could and during a downhill I lost the circle of my control so I jumped to the next one. In addition to this, I realize that I had also cut accidentally through a vineyard. The relay was a damned race for the Italian team. This time, Luca did a mispunch and my race was influenced for a bad crash where the frame of the bike got broken. But I don't feel sad for these results because I tried to do my best, maybe pushing a bit over the limit.
The next big challenge it's called World MTB Orienteering Championships. Can you feel already some good vibrations about that?
R. R. - Yes, the season has been positive so far but the main goal is to be in good shape for the WMTBOC. I’ve been training very well and I have programmed a vacation period before the event.
You've been to Portugal several times and you know the country quite well. What kind of event are you expecting?
R. R. - Sure, Portugal has organized a lot of important events these years and the standards are always excellent. I’m sure that this WMTBOC will confirm the past work.
What are your main goals? Does your bet go to a particular distance?
R. R. - I want to prepare the Sprint race. My aim is to reach the top 10. In the other distances I would be happy to finish in the top 20.
Who will be your major opponents?
R. R. - The adversaries could be the external factors. I have to keep the right concentration and not distract myself. At least, I like both the Portuguese terrain and the hot weather.
You are now the 25th placed in the IOF MTBO World Ranking and the 19th in the World Cup. How close to the top positions do you expect to be in the end of the season?
R. R. - I always think that reaching the top 30 is a good thing. Nevertheless the human species always want to outdo themselves so I expect to be in the top 20 in both rankings in the end of the season.
Would you like to share with us your biggest dream?
R. R. - When you reveal your dream it becomes a purpose. That's why I want to keep my dreams as they are.