Let's hope that bad things don't happen in threes for the 35-year-old cross-country skier Pietro Piller Cottrer. Upon making his Olympic debut back in the Nagano Games of 1998, the Italian was in second place at the halfway point during the 50-km freestyle before falling, getting tangled in the protective netting and finishing in a lowly 16th place. Far worse was to come in 2001, when he managed to cut off the tip of one of his fingers while chopping wood. Mind you, when he won his first Olympic medal at the following year's Games in Salt Lake City a silver in the 4 x 10-km relay he celebrated by wearing a foam finger. Obviously, Piller Cottrer doesn't lack a sense of humor, nor the undoubted talent that's needed to win Olympic medals. He added two to his tally in Torino: a first gold, for his favored 4 x 10-km relay event, as well as a bronze in the 2 x 15-km pursuit. He'll be dangerous in the individual 15-km pursuit or if he's skiing the third leg of a relay. Piller Cottrer, who has competed on the world stage since 1995, actually won the men's pursuit event at the test run at Whistler Olympic Park in January 2009, thus becoming the first Italian male cross-country skier to win six World Cup races. And he's not short on opinions. At the postrace press conference, he harbored concerns about the course: "It's so easy and [there are] too many curves ... It's a shame. I have to admit, the previous Olympic courses were better."
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