THE MARCEL HIRSCHER STORY
4th September 2019 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Alpine racing has lost one of its very best as one of the greatest of all time hangs up his skis. PlanetSKI looks back.
Marcel Hirscher is just 30.
It’s no age to be thinking of retiring.
But the husband and father, whose son will be one next month, has other priorities now – and he has little or nothing left to prove.
He has won an unprecedented eight consecutive overall World Cup titles.
When he collected his most recent overall Crystal Globe, he hinted that it might be his last.
“We have to talk about those things in the summer,” he said, when asked whether he would be trying for a ninth.
“Family is the priority, so it’s the question how much longer I can keep doing both in a sensible way.”
See here for our news report on his announcement:
Between 2012 and 2019 Hirscher also won six World Cup slalom titles and six giant slalom titles.
He has stood on the top of the World Cup podium 67 times.
That’s more than any other Austrian, even the great Hermann Maier, Benjamin Raich and AnneMarie Moser-Pröll.
“We have never seen such a perfect ski racer before,” Moser-Pröll told Austrian broadcaster ORF just after Hirscher surpassed her record of 62 World Cup wins in Saalbach in December 2018.
Hirscher went on to stack up a handful more wins last season including at the World Championships in Åre in Sweden in February, where he won gold in the slalom.
That win took his tally of golds in World Championships to a mighty seven, equalled only by his compatriot Toni Sailer.
He also has two Winter Olympic gold medals from Pyeongchang and a silver from Sochi in 2014.
In individual World Cup statistics terms, Hirscher is not the ‘best’.
Both the American Lindsey Vonn, who retired at the end of last season, and the Swede Ingemar Stenmark, who competed in the 1970s and 80s, have more World Cup wins.
Vonn is the most prolific female skier with 82 but no one has matched Stenmark’s record of 86.
Hirscher is, however, unquestionably the greatest technical skier of his generation, dominating the slalom and GS disciplines for almost a decade.
He was born in Annaberg-Lungoetz in the Hallein district of Salzburg state on 2nd March 1989.
He started skiing at the age of two and was taught by his father, who has continued to coach him throughout his illustrious career.
He made his World Cup debut at the tender age of 18 in 2007 in Lenzerheide in Switzerland. He finished 24th.
His first victory came in 2009 in Val d’Isere in France.
In 2015 he was nearly hit by a falling camera drone during a night slalom.
“It almost struck the back of my skis,” he said in an interview.
“I was not aware at first what had happened because I was focusing on my race and the next gate but I got to the finish area where I learned how lucky I had been.
“I asked experts and they told me that a drone weighing 15 or 20 kilos falling from a height of 10 metres and hitting me on the head would have caused serious damage.”
Hirscher has not been immune from injury but his recoveries have been quick and full.
In August 2018 he fractured his ankle on his first day training on snow for the winter season.
Less than three months later, he finished 17th in his first race after the injury. In his next two races just a few weeks after he was third and first.
Whenever Marcel Hirscher clipped into his bindings and pushed out of the gates, the most likely scenario was that he would win, or at least be placed in the top three.
It didn’t always happen but only a foolish punter would bet against him.
Fans of ski racing, like all of us at PlanetSKI, will dearly miss watching the genius at work on the snow this coming winter.
For the Spirit of the Mountains – PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news