Deborah with the medals won at the Nagano 1998 Olympic Games
A ﬁxture on the World Cup podium throughout the 1990s, Compagnoni really made her mark in the Olympics as the only ski racer to have won golds in three Winter Games. In sexist parlance, she “skied like a man.” Naturally aggressive on the slopes, Compagnoni was lucky enough to reach her peak just as advances in equipment— carbon Kevlar materials, Titanal alloys, evolving side cuts, taper designs — allowed smaller racers to excel through technical ability rather than sheer strength. She mastered the equipment, and so mastered the racecourse.
After suﬀering through knee injuries and surgeries early in her career — and only weeks after her ﬁrst World Cup win —Compagnoni won her ﬁrst gold in the 1992 games, in the super Gat Méribel. Butthe very next day, she fell in the giant slalom, tearing another ligament. Realizing that her knees would never heal well enough for speed events, she began to concentrate on technique. Just before the ’94 Olympics, Ken Shulman wrote in The New York Times, “the 23-year-old pushes her weight dangerously forward onto the tips of her skis, assuming a tight, aerodynamic crouch as she cuts an astonishingly straight line between the gates. When she is on, Compagnoni and her skis appear to be one creature, speeding down the course in a perfect economy of movement.” Her technique, reminiscent of teammate Alberto Tomba’s, was unique in the women’s events. She soon mastered the slalom and giant slalom, winning World Cups and world championships and taking Olympic gold in the giant slalom in Lillehammer in 1994 and Nagano in 1998.
Compagnoni today leads a quiet existence in Italy, though her marriage to Alessandro Benetton (of the eponymous clothing empire) and her national ski-hero status keep her in the society pages. She is also the founder and president of the nonproﬁt association Sciare per la Vita, which organizes skiing events to raise money to ﬁght leukemia. She’s still on skis, and still making a diﬀerence.
Physical Characteristics: Height: 165 cm (5 ft 5 in)
She has been married to Alessandro Benetton since 2008. They have three children.
At 32 she gave birth to her second child with Alessandro Benetton, a son, Tobias on January 15th, 2003. He was born in Samedan (Switzerland) and weighed 3.2 Kg.
At 30 she gave birth to her first child with Alessandro Benetton, a daughter, Agnese on August 17th, 2000. She was born in Samedan (Switzerland) and weighed 3.5 Kg. She'll take both of her parents' surnames.
At 36 she gave birth to her third child with Alessandro Benetton, a daughter, Luce on December 16th, 2006.