Andrea Macri heading to his fifth Games in a different fashion

Defender is one of three players on the Italian national team working for the Milano-Cortina 2026 Organising Committee 08 Feb 2023
Three men wearing Italy's Para ice hockey jersey posing for a picture
Andrea Macri (left), Gabriele Lanza (centre) and Alessandro Andreoni are the Italian national team Para ice hockey players working at Milano Cortina 2026
ⒸAndrea Macri
By Stuart Lieberman | For World Para Ice Hockey

Italian Para ice hockey player Andrea Macri has competed at four Paralympics, but now for the first time he is also working to put on the Games.

Macri is one of three players on the Italian team, alongside Alessandro Andreoni and Gabriele Lanza, working for the Milano-Cortina 2026 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

“We don’t have a lot of opportunities in our country to create a career using our sport, so this is a huge opportunity,” Macri said. “It was an amazing opportunity for us when they came to us. As an athlete and a person with a disability, this is an opportunity to share with other people our Paralympic knowledge in a professional setting.”

Macri works as a full-time specialist in the Paralympic Games Integration team. Andreoni works in the branding department and Lanza in the logistics department. 

“The role of my area is to integrate the Paralympic knowledge into all the other functional areas,” Macri said. “It’s a challenge because of course almost 90 percent of my colleagues have never been part of a Paralympic organisation, but it’s also new and nice for them to hear these experiences and make this a part of their job.”

A stalwart defender on the ice, Macri, who was injured at 17 when his school’s roof collapsed, has competed in three Paralympics in Para ice hockey and one in wheelchair fencing. But only since he started working for Milano-Cortina 2026 last June has he seen how much effort and organisation behind the scenes it takes to put on one of the world’s largest sporting events and develop a Para sport to a place where it can be parallel to its Olympic counterparts. 

“The biggest challenge for these Games specifically will be hosting them in two cities,” Macri said. “The people can enjoy different places from the Dolomites to the Alps, from Milano to Cortina. It won’t be easy, but it’s the job we have been tasked with. For spectators this will be new, but also very nice and could turn into an example for future host cities.”

Hockey dream

Macri has been working on a new project called Adaptive Winter Sport, which will aim to improve the number of people participating in winter Para sports. The initiative connects national federations of winter sports with National Paralympic Committees, creating winter sports camps for youth as well as coaching courses. 

All three Italian athletes work full-time for the Organising Committee while training for the Games during their time off, with the former funding the latter.

“When I entered into the Milano-Cortina 2026 office the first time, I realized how much meaning really is behind the word Paralympian and Paralympic athlete, and the work that goes into putting on the Paralympics,” Macri said. “Our dream and goal is to still play in 2026.”

Italy’s Para ice hockey team will be competing in its sixth consecutive Paralympics in the sport dating back to 2006. Italy’s highest finish at the Paralympics came at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, where it took fourth place. The nation finished fifth at Beijing 2022.

The Italian team is now being coached by Mirko Bianchi who took over the reigns to start this season when Massimo Da Rin stepped down after 17 years a the helm. Da Rin has coached Italy since the inception of the programme prior to the Torino 2006 Paralympics, leading the team to five Paralympic appearances, two top-five finishes at the World Championships, and a European title in 2011.

More information about the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games can be found here