For this interview, Dario Cologna visited us at the Helvetia head office in St. Gallen. He was on his way to a business event at Lake Constance, he told us. Prior to his retirement following the 2021/2022 season, Dario Cologna won medal after medal in cross-country skiing. As the World Champion, four-time Overall World Cup winner and four-time Olympic Gold Medallist, he made the sport even more popular in Switzerland. Now he has new plans and wants to support the next generation.
Dario Cologna: "Even as a child I was the competitive type. I just always really wanted to win – and not just in sport. So it's just part of my nature to expect a lot of myself and be just really keen to get as much as possible out of every situation. People say that I also often have similar expectations of others."
"The biggest risk I ever took was deciding to embark on a career in elite sport. That needed a lot of courage. The safe option would have been to learn a trade. But the risk paid off."
"It was definitely a big change. Everything used to revolve around sport. The season would hardly have finished, and preparations for the next one would be starting. Thoughts would centre around training, how to get better and make progress."
Life's different now, says Dario Cologna. He's happy, he says, to have left the expectations and pressure of elite sport behind him and to be able to take on new tasks. "It was a privilege to be an elite sportsperson. I really value the fact that I'm currently still able to continue working with a few of my old sponsors, like Helvetia. I've got more time now to spend with my family – and I still have time for sport. That's important to me, and also good for me."
"It was the right time for me to retire. I really enjoyed my career. And it was a privilege to be an elite sportsperson."
"I don't need regular competition any more. But sport was always my great passion. Now I'm able to pursue other sporting goals that didn't fit into my training plan before. I ran the Berlin marathon in September. And yes, my aim was to be reasonably fast. But it was me setting my own expectations of myself, they didn't come from others. Fitness and a sporting lifestyle are important to me. But nowadays I can take it easy sometimes, too."
Dario Cologna ran his first marathon in Berlin. His personal, ambitious goal was to run the marathon in less than two and a half hours, and he definitely achieved that, finishing in a time of a time of 2:28:35.
"I grew up in Val Müstair and even when I was young I spent a lot of time enjoying the natural environment. As a professional cross-country skier, the great outdoors was essentially my workplace. So it's close to my heart."
Dario says that's why being involved with Helvetia's protection forest project suits him. Just recently he visited the Canton of Ticino as part of the reforestation programme for the protection forest which burnt down, to plant some saplings himself. "Actually being there really makes you aware of how important the protection forest is in the prevention of natural hazards."
"I think it's really important to get insurance and to discuss your policies with an expert from time to time – especially when you go through big changes in life. So after I left my profession I sat down with our customer advisor to look at and adjust our insurance cover and pension plans."
"Yes, planning for the future was something I always found important. Thanks to being just 23 when I won the Overall World Cup and then became Olympic Gold medallist, I was able to put money aside for later life at quite a young age. Of course I sought pension advice. But I was always very aware that: as an elite sportsperson your career is finite. It's important to start saving for the future early on."
"But I was always very aware that: as an elite sportsperson your career is finite. It's important to start saving for the future early on."
"It's very varied. I'm often doing things as an ambassador for sponsors: customer events, photo shoots, talks or interviews. There are some new projects, too. Sometimes I'm out and about with my son, who's almost two. There's also usually a bit of sport for me involved as well."
Dario Cologna has retired from professional sport – but sport still plays a key role in his life. One of the new projects is the 'Dario Cologna Youth Camp', which he has set up to support talented young cross-country skiers. Together with trainers from Swiss Ski and with Helvetia as partner, he organized and ran a youth camp in Davos in July. "The main aim of the camp is to make sport fun and to motivate the young people to stick with it. If they aren't totally committed from the start, a lot of young sports talents lose their motivation to be involved in elite sport – because training times no longer fit so well with secondary schooling or apprenticeships. I want to counteract this and to prepare the next generation for their career."