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Marcel Hirscher

Racer | Alpine Skier | Fast Driver
Published : 21.03.2018

Seven-time overall World Cup winner writes his final blog of a scintillating season.

Hi guys,

The final weekend of racing in Åre brought the season to a close – and what a winter it has been for me. I still can’t quite believe everything that has happened. Victory in the giant slalom in Åre was my 13th win of the season and a new record.

Rewind five months and I was spending my days thinking about questions like “Is the season already over even before it has begun?”, “Will I be able to compete at the Olympics?” and “Could this be the end of my career?”. Back then my team and I would never have dreamt of thinking this season could be as successful as it has been. When my recovery progressed as planned and I was able to complete my first turns on snow without any pain, we sat down and drew up our strategy for the winter ahead: push the limits every day, in every race, and take each result as it is.

This whatever-happens-happens mentality gave me the freedom to take as many risks as I wanted – and ended up producing my best ever season with 13 victories, two Olympic medals and three FIS World Cup titles. That was a dream which was made possible because I was able to go into every race with no pressure on my shoulders. Nobody expected anything from me this season – not the media, not the public, not the team and not even myself. That removed a lot of the pressure which I am sure would have been there after last winter. I am sure this year would have gone differently if I had not suffered my injury that threatened to derail the whole season. That might sound a little strange, but it is true. Breaking my ankle had a big positive effect on making my season such a success!

Another important factor this year was my battle with Henrik Kristoffersen. We pushed each other to even greater heights and both became better skiers as a result. He is most probably the skier of the future, though you always have to be careful with such predictions – before you know it the next fast guy comes along and is pushing hard for top spot.

There are so many good skiers in our sport. If I think back to the past few years, I always had competitors who pushed me to my limits and made me go all out for victory. One example is Ted Ligety. When he was in top form he was so fast through the gates and really hard for me to beat. Alexis Pinturault is another skier who demands absolute concentration and is one of the toughest opponents in giant slalom. When it comes to slalom, Henrik Kristoffersen and Felix Neureuther were two guys who were almost always up there at the top of the standings – that was a great motivation for me to push even harder and become better. No matter how many races I have won, I always go into every competition wanting to set the fastest time and end up on top of the podium.

Sure, at the start of the season not everything worked out as planned and I had to deal with a lot of setbacks. But when I finished fourth on the first run of the season-opening slalom in Levi, I could feel I was getting back into the flow. It was there that I saw I could be one of the fastest this season – that was a very important moment which I can still remember now.

Picking a best moment of the season is almost impossible. Every victory is special. In Kranjska Gora it was an incredible feeling to know I had secured first place in the overall standings of the FIS World Cup for the seventh time in a row. My two victories at the Olympics were also an experience I will never forget. Going into the Games there was a huge amount of pressure because everyone back in Austria was expecting me to come back with at least one medal.

We decided to tackle the challenge head-on and attack right from the start. Everyone, including myself, was surprised by gold in the combined event. Standing in the start house of the giant slalom was a great feeling – and it was even better when we managed to take first place. This winter has given us many, many beautiful moments – more than 15!

As far as the future is concerned, at the moment I don’t know how things will continue. There has been a lot of speculation about me focusing more on the speed disciplines. However, in order to be successful in downhill and Super-G you need a lot of time and experience – and those are two things I do not have. It would definitely take at least a year or two to develop the skills I need for these two disciplines, which are pretty much a totally different sport from slalom and giant slalom. All that work would by no means guarantee success – and even if it did, it would take me at least one full season to become good enough to mix it with the best.

Learning the courses, getting used to skiing on long skis and becoming accustomed to the high speeds sounds interesting and is something which does tempt me, but all in all it is a challenge which I no longer want to take on at this point in my life. Instead it’s about having fun skiing – that is enough of a challenge going forward. After an intense winter like this one I am looking forward to relaxing and taking it easy for a bit. Only once I have rested, recovered and recharged my batteries will I start building my fitness up again, get back on snow and see if I am still having fun. For me it’s not about looking for new goals and challenges – simply having fun on skis is enough for me. If I can still feel that fun factor, there is nothing standing in the way of another season competing.

On Thursday I will fly to Canada for a bit of heliskiing, and then I am hoping for warm weather and plenty of sunshine so I can get out my swimming shorts as soon as possible. My aim is to get away from it all for a bit and just chill. Let’s see how long I manage to do that for – normally I am a really active person who can’t stay still for too long!

Last but not least I would like to thank my fantastic team who have worked so hard all season and shown incredible dedication. Without these people I would not be where I am today – thank you! I would also like to take this opportunity to personally thank Johann Strobl, who for many years was my number two service man and has now decided to take on a new professional challenge.

Thank you for an unforgettable season!

Marcel

Published : 16.03.2018

Marcel Hirscher blog: Korean gold and his magnificent seven

Austrian on double February triumph and a seventh straight overall World Cup title.

Hi guys,

What an unforgettable weekend: first place in the giant slalom, first place in the slalom, and the fastest time in three out of four runs.

To top it all off, victory in the overall standings for the disciplines giant slalom and slalom and, for the seventh year in a row, top spot in the World Cup overall classification.

I really couldn’t have asked for anymore. If you add to that my two gold medals in South Korea then you have an incredible season, which is now almost at an end.

Nobody in the team could ever have imagined achieving all that, not least of all me. Right now, it’s really all too much to take in, so let’s take things one step at a time.

Let’s start with our time in Korea. We spent a long time thinking about whether I should compete in the combined event or not. There was a chance of me getting a good result but, for that, I had to perform in the downhill.

The first few downhill training sessions were not great but, in the afternoon before the combined event, we added an extra training session to try out a new set-up. Suddenly, I felt much more comfortable and was able to take more risks.

The next day, I put in a pretty decent performance in the downhill race of the combined event, setting me up nicely for the slalom.

But then conditions were terrible: the wind howling and I could barely see where I was going. The only reason I managed to get the gold medal on what was a relatively short slalom course is because I decided to take a longer, safer line further away from the poles in order to make sure I got down to the finish safe and sound.

That first gold medal in PyeongChang released the pressure I had on my shoulders. Finally, I had won an Olympic title – the only thing missing from my collection. The fact that this gold had come in the combined event was a surprise to me and everyone else.

At the same time, I knew that everyone back in Austria still expected me to take gold in the giant slalom as well. Now that’s what I call pressure! You can imagine my relief when I managed to put down two very good runs to take victory in that too.

That was the moment when the pressure really came off. Looking back now, one of the reasons why I was able to win that was the snow in South Korea. It is very aggressive and a little reminiscent of the snow in Beaver Creek. Because we have skied a lot there, we had plenty of experience when it came to choosing the best material and the right set-up.

The Olympic slalom, though, was a different story. For the slalom race we were missing precisely this experience for choosing the best ski and set-up, so it was a case of doing our best and seeing how it worked out. In the end, I didn’t even make it to the finish but we still left with two gold medals, an incredible achievement which means an awful lot to me.

The subsequent World Cup in Kranjska Gora and the giant slalom was tough. Conditions were tricky – within the space of just one turn the piste would turn from grippy, aggressive snow into sheet ice.

Everyone struggled with that in the first run. With things as tough as they were, I was delighted with my advantage of 0.73 seconds after run No1. It soon became clear the course would be so rutted for run No2 and cut up that it would be more or less like skiing through moguls.

Instead of playing safe I decided to go all out – after all, I was there not to collect points but win races. It worked.

Even then, I was a little nervous going into the slalom especially my second run knowing I’d not only win the 2018 slalom title but also secure the overall World Cup.

Up in the start house, I wondered if I should wait and see which time Henrik Kristoffersen set but I put that idea out of my head and said, “forget it, do what you always do – ski as hard as you can and go for the win”.

As I crossed the finish line I knew the decision to go all out rather than play it safe had been right, my advantage over Henrik 1.22seconds for my 12th victory of the season. First in slalom, giant slalom and World Cup overall standings is the best proof it pays to believe in yourself and take risks.

Now the team is on a real high. When I broke my ankle in summer things didn’t look good at all. We were pretty sure I’d miss the first part of the season but we didn’t.

What’s even more incredible is that, in all those seven years, I still have not missed a single race due to illness or injury. That is something that cannot be taken for granted and which I am truly grateful for.

I’m 100% motivated for the final stop of the season in Åre and we’re not going there for a holiday. Instead, we want to make this already memorable season even more unforgettable by adding further victories.

Our motto will be the same as it is all season: we’re skiing for the win!

See you in Sweden!

Marcel

Read the original blog in German HERE.

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