Portrait (1/3): Matteo Eydallin
SAINT-JEAN DE MOIRANS, Fr. – Last month, Italia’s own Matteo Eydallin dropped by our Global Headquarters to meet with our teams, reflect on the last season and talk about what’s to expect for the next one. We took the opportunity to chat with this epicurean a little bit just for you to get to know him better.
PART ONE: Beers, bibs & hypoglycemia
Dynastar: So, Matteo, can you tell us more about how you started ski mountaineering?
Matteo Eydallin: Oh, man, I think it all started in a bar with a bunch of friends (laughs). There is actually a huge culture and enthusiasm for alpine ski back in Italy; so I started doing that at a young age, even though my body was not properly made for it. But I tried to keep on until I obtained my Ski Instructor Degree. Then, a few years later, I was at a bar with a bunch of friends from my MTB crew who proposed me to go ski touring the following day. I already had drunk a few beers and I just could not say no. It turned out I loved it. It was a fabulous day out there and I enjoyed the uphill parts just as much as the downhill ones. The season after that one, I started to do ski mountaineering at a competitive level and, in 2005, I won the European Junior Championships.
D: Did you feel at that time that you were made for it?
M.E.: I don’t know… I have always been decent at doing endurance stuff. From the very first training sessions, I felt good and it felt right. I was definitely lacking some technique but I was able to rely on my knowledge of mountains and my alpine ski background.
D: When did ski mountaineering started to click? When did you tell yourself “This is something I want to do professionally”?
M.E.: When I got first at European Junior Championships in 2005, I remember telling myself that I could maybe do something in this sport. So in 2006, I enrolled in the Army and made ski mountaineering my job. I really wanted to get better but I was lacking some discipline. During my first year as a senior, though, I won three major races: the Pierra Menta, the Rutor, and the Mezzalama. That is when ski mountaineering definitely clicked. From that season, despite a little power loss in 2010 and 2011, I was able to compete with the best skiers in the world.
D: And you never got injured?
M.E.: Well, you never really compete at a hundred percent of your abilities. I have always had small injuries: my fingers, my ribs, etc. But I was lucky enough to never spend a year without competing.
D: What would you say your strongest attributes are? What makes you keep such a high-level of performance?
M.E.: Oh, this one is hard. It’s never easy to talk about himself… I would say that I am quite decent with long-distance, stamina-needed stuff and also I am comfortable with elevation. On the Mezzalama or on the Patrouille des Glaciers for instance, where the elevation is sometimes 4,000 meters (14,000 feet), I never got any bad experience. That is probably because I am used to it. I like to spend some time in my hometown (in the Suze Valley) prior to a race. I grew up there at 1,500 meters (5,500 feet).
Don't you dare messing with them.
(left: Matteo Eydallin, right: Damiano Lenzi)
D: Any bad memory from a race?
M.E.: To be honest, my body manages to recover quite fast so I have never experienced anything really bad on a multi-staged race. (He takes a few seconds to think) Oh no, yeah, during my first victory at the Pierra Menta in 2009, I suffered from a really strong hypoglycemia. Definitely one of the hardest days of my life. But those make you tougher. Throughout the years and thanks to such experiences, you learn to know yourself and listen to what your body needs. It’s always helpful.
D: So you do have weaknesses!
M.E.: Oh yeah (laughs)! Also, I suck at short-distance races. I don’t have what it takes to succeed at sprint, relay or vertical races. I am not really “explosive”.
Don't ever be afraid to do the pain face.
D: Regarding your attributes, the Pierra Menta must have a peculiar taste for you, doesn’t it?
M.E.: Definitely. Along with the Mezzalama, the Pierra Menta is the most important race for me. First because, like you said, I am good at it; but also because of what the race means to the world of ski mountaineering. Sometimes, when you win a World Cup stage, nobody really knows. But when you win the Pierra Menta, everybody hears from you. I really don’t care about fame, I do that because I love this sport. But when you win such a newsworthy race... It feels amazing.