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Alessandro Dressadore and Roberto Rocchiccioli

Undisputed champions on Skis and...In Life

Young men with Down’s syndrome from the Doganaccia Ski Club won gold medals at the Italian Special Olympics and the Italian Fisdir 2011

Seeing with your heart. Our story, touching in its simplicity, has sensitive, clear-sighted adults as co-stars and children as the heroes who found a reason to live amidst the snowflakes. Roberto Rocchiccioli, today 21 years old, and Alessandro Dressadore, 20 years old, are both members of the Doganaccia 2000 Ski Club and who have become alpine skiing champions by chance. Born with an extra chromosome, they were able to imitate the deeds of their idol, the American Ted Ligety. “A decade ago,” says Marco Ceccarelli, the Doganaccia coach, “Vincenzo and Alessandra Rocchiccioli from Lizzano Pistoiese brought their son Francesco to ski. His brother Roberto, a child with Down’s syndrome, stayed on the side of the track.

I asked to see him in action and since then, he has become passionate about the sport, attaining outstanding results. “It was the late Ivo Rastelli who insisted on Ale’s participating in this sport. Thanks to the instructors’ willingness and knowledge, he not only is brilliant on snow but he swims and plays tennis,” recalls Andrea Dressadore, married to Cristina and father of Leonardo, the ski instructor. Ceccarelli says, “Having made them train with the able-bodied allowed them to grow much more, humanwise and sportswise.”

Alessandra Rocchiccioli and Dressadore confirm, “They have learned so much but they have helped others to understand what a disability is.” Marco describes him to us, “A specialist in downhill and giant slalom, Roberto is exuberant; Alessandro (slalom and giant slalom) is more methodical.” “Roberto is instinct, Alessandro has improved until he has become one of the best Italian athletes with Down’s,” echoes Ronny Ceccarelli, Marco’s brother and an instructor for the Doganaccia, a club with sixty athletes (with Martina Guerri among the most promising). The two angels have soared: Roberto won two golds and a bronze medal at the Italian Special Olympics and Alessandro, the national title at Fisdir 2011.”

“Watching them ski was a victory for us,” say the parents. “Roby is a graduate of the De Franceschi School,” his mom adds. “He is working with the Dynamo Camp and looking for a job.” His father says, “Ale is specializing at the art school.” Life’s race is to be won. They are prepared; they will succeed.