Marco Dallago: progression personified
Austria's Marco Dallago always skates to win. But above all, the 2014 Ice Cross Downhill World Champion is in the sport because he loves it. His passion has made him one of the most progressive and influential riders on the tour, raising the bar for competitors and growing the fan base worldwide.
With a talent for blasting out of the gates, Dallago earned three podiums between his 2011 Red Bull Crashed Ice debut in Munich and the conclusion of the 2013 season. But his dominance in 2014 signaled a cosmic shift.
Typically, riders had taken significant time off after the season finale and relied on training methods from sports like hockey to get back in shape. But between the 2013 and 2014 tours, Dallago trained throughout the off-season, and in addition to gym work, running, cycling and hockey, he and his brother Luca, also a competitor, built a 200-meter-long wooden track on their parents' forested land for ice cross downhill–specific practice on inline skates.
On his way to the World Championship that winter, Dallago's all-around athleticism brought him within a hair's breadth of sweeping all four Red Bull Crashed Ice individual races and earned him the 2014 team championship to boot. His feat inspired other athletes to elevate their off-season game and heighten their own agility, reflexes and stamina.
With his opponents meeting his challenge, Dallago finished sixth overall in 2015. But the 25-year-old thrives on the back-and-forth nature of racing, and he's excited that once again it's his turn to overtake the leaders. He sees it as part of the progression of the sport.
Still, Dallago admits that it isn't easy to train twice a day, almost every day. "Having a goal, a dream, a vision is very important to keeping it up long term," he points out. "At the level where all of us are now, to get an improvement you need to be almost over the top at every training session. After last season, I've figured out a lot of things that I could do better, and that includes mental stuff, like how to be more efficient."
Building the future of ice cross downhill is what Dallago is all about. He invites top athletes as well as newbies to train at the wooden track in Austria, loves working with children, posts blogs and vlogs... and while his calm and friendly demeanor puts others at ease, there's no slowing him down, on or off the ice.
"All kinds of good opportunities come along – getting the federation going, building tracks," he says. The athlete also plays a key role in planning the Riders Cup event in Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria. "While the Red Bull Crashed Ice scene is fun because it's huge and crazy, the Riders Cup has a more cozy, familiar atmosphere, and the crowds who come are great," he describes. With a smile, Dallago adds, "My brother and I don't have a fancy lifestyle, but it's kind of living a dream."