The history of the Mezzalama Trophy starts with the Italian mountaineer Ottorino Mazzalama, born in 1888. It was in his memory that this race was created. Ottorino Mezzalama was an outstanding skier and alpinist and today, still is seen as the pioneer of military ski mountaineering. His life ended tragically at the age of 42. In February 1931, he took part in a voluntary search-and-rescue mission at avalanche tragedy in the Rochemolles valley in which 20 soldiers went missing. He and another colleague were surprised by a change in the weather and thus had to bivouac the following three days in a small hut. Weakened by this stress, Ottorino Mezzalama was overtaken by an avalanche on the descent and died.
In his memory, named after him were the Mezzalama Glacier in the Italian Valais, the Ottorino Mezzalama Hut as part of the Italian Alpine Society, as well as the Mezzalama Trophy and the Mezzalama Skyrace.