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.