Fusar-Poli & Margaglio: Ice Dancers Bring the Heat to Torino
Barbara Fusar-Poli was born in Sesto San Giovanni on February 6, 1972. She currently resides in Milan with her husband Diego Cattani and daughter Giorgia, who she gave birth to on June 24, 2004. According to the Fusar-Poli & Margaglio official web site and Barbara’s mother, Nives, figure skating was not Barbara’s first sport. Young Barbara studied ballet first. Then, she moved onto swimming and finally settled on figure skating after seeing an exhibition at the age of 9½ in her hometown.
Barbara, who is a natural extrovert, had several partners (Matteo Bonfa and Alberto Reani) before she began working with Maurizio Margaglio. Although the pairing with Margaglio would be what would give her international fame as an ice dancer including no less than eight national titles, multiple World Cup top finishes, several times atop the medal podium at the European and World Championships and, of course, a bronze medal in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, it is true that Barbara once considered quitting the sport altogether. She was unsure whether a partnership with Maurizio, a younger and less experienced athlete, would be a beneficial one.
Maurizio, who was born in Milan on November 16, 1974 and currently resides in Courmayeur on the Italian side of Monte Bianco, may have only begun skating at the age of 10. He put on his first pair of skates soon after bringing home a flyer for classes in his school backpack. His parents, Rosy and Victorio, always encouraged him to express himself athletically. Maurizio also excelled at soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball and karate too! So it’s not surprising that the young Maurizio was a natural skater and dancer who won almost every competition he entered almost from the time he laced up his first pair of skates. In 1990 the strikingly-handsome Maurizio, who is called Mauri by close friends and family, began working with Paola Mezzadri, who was also Barbara’s coach. He was paired up with Claudia Frigoli in the junior competitions. Maurizio and Claudia didn’t have that magic together; he was soon encouraged to find a new partner.
When Barbara began to have difficulties with her partner, Alberto Reani, Coach Mezzadri had the spark of inspiration to put Maurizio and Barbara together. From the beginning of their skating union in 1994, Fusar-Poli and Margaglio ignited the ice dancing world with their passion, effervescence and ability. They originally retired from the sport after winning the bronze in Salt Lake City; but could not ignore the lure of skating in the Olympics in their home country. When they announced their intentions to skate in Torino at a press conference in September, 2005, all of Italy was aflame.
Unfortunately Torino did not bring Fusar-Poli and Margaglio a return to the medal podium. The pair started strong and found themselves in first place by a full half-point over the Russian favorites and two-time world champions, Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomorav after the compulsory dance. However, after a fall in the original dance, Fusar-Poli glared at Margaglio for a full 30 seconds. It became the ‘stare seen around the world’. The press picked the story up and ran with it, intimating that, perhaps, Fusar-Poli blamed Margaglio for the error. Barbara told the press the following day that she was not angry at Maurizio but upset at the fact that they made an error and fell out of the medal hunt. Maurizio was quoted in the Associated Press (AP) as saying, “It was rage because one year of work, we came on the ice in first place, and we wanted to keep it. You don’t think you would be angry with that? We lost the timing between us and our rotation was not on a good axis. It was not anything between Barbara and me.”
In the final leg of the competition, the free dance, the two danced to ‘The Prince of Egypt’ and did well enough to finish in 6th place. They hugged. Maurizio kissed Barbara on the forehead; and, she kissed him on the cheek. All in all it was a nice ending to a long and very successful ice dancing career or was it the end?
We’ll just have to wait and see.
By Deanna Couras Goodson