In the world of men’s alpine skiing there is one man that is dominating the sport: Marcel Hirscher.

On the global stage Marcel Hirscher isn’t quite a household name, but in Austria he has a profile similar to David Beckham. The Atomic skier has won seven World Cup overall titles in a row, six World Championship Golds and recently two Olympic gold medals. He is the second most decorated male alpine skier of all time. 

Hirscher is a machine when it comes to winning ski races and he continues to get stronger with each season. Despite breaking his ankle in summer training last year, Hirscher recovered quickly to have his most successful season ever, with 13 victories in Slalom and Giant Slalom. His life on and off the slope is scrutinised under a microscope by the Austrian media and it is very rare to get more than two minutes from the skiing superstar.

Hirscher won an impressive 13/20 World Cup races last season, a success rate of 65%! A record only equaled by legends Ingemar Stenmark and Hermann Maier. 

That is what made the media day in the picturesque village of Fuschl am See so special. Hirscher gave his time to 80 journalists from around the world for five hours. The event was hosted by Salzburgerland, Austria where Hirscher grew up and also now resides in. From the get go there was a real sense of his stature within the sport and his country, because of the mob of cameras and microphones that were thrust into his face as he started to talk to the world’s media. 

Marcel Hirscher Interview 2018

 

Media rumours

A lot of journalists were on tenterhooks to see if he would announce his retirement, following the news that Hirscher is expecting a child this September with his wife Laura Moisl who he recently married. Hirscher was keeping his cards close to his chest but he did reveal his immediate future plans: “Sorry it is a bit boring that I’m not quitting yet!

“I think to make it clear, I have been racing for the last 15 years purely as a professional athlete. Now with my private situation a lot of other positive things are coming into my life and I can’t be able to manage both of them equally. My dream is to keep both together but I have to make compromises now.” 

Despite winning almost all possible accolades in Alpine Skiing, Hirscher was quick to emphasise he still has an appetite to compete on the world stage: “It is still a big challenge! There’s an opportunity to be the best. To be one day the best at a race or in training. It’s just to be as good as possible and that’s what is challenging me.”

Since his first overall World Cup win in 2012 he has been consistently at the top of his game with most of his peers struggling to get close to his points tally over a season. The 29 year old explained the reason for his dominance: “I have Atomic skis! Just joking! First of all I’m a very lucky guy. I think my parents had a pretty good combination. 

“I’m lucky with my genes that my ligaments are very strong. This is something that was given to me and I had no control over. I also have the perfect symmetry for ski racing. I’m not too small or tall. I’m a good weight, I think I have the perfect body.”

As well as his physical advantage, the marginal gains in equipment are closely examined by Hirscher himself: “I will never win a race with a bad set up! Some guys win the odd race but aren’t able to get the right set up for other days. They have to really think about this, because I sometimes have the best set up for the race.

“This is maybe the secret in my opinion. I am not the better skier. I am able to, with my team, have my equipment on point. I have the best equipment for me.”

“I saw a documentary about Dave Ryding on Austrian TV and I was close to tears."

There’s no avoiding the fact that Hirscher has an impressive entourage. From conditioning specialists to on-slope support, he has it all to make sure everything is right come race day. This is why Hirscher is a great admirer of Britain’s very own Dave Ryding. The man from Pendle began on a dryslope and has a small team behind him on the World Cup. Both Hirscher and Ryding’s support and funding are worlds apart from each other. Despite the clear divide in backing, Ryding came close to beating Hirscher when he finished second to the World Cup star in the 2016/17 season at the Kitzbuhel Slalom. 

Dave Ryding Interview 2017

 

Hirscher had nothing but positive words about his British rival: “It really is inspiring. Hats off to Dave and the story behind this great athlete. I feel very sorry for him that he was not able to take his first two real chances but I’m sure he will win a World Cup race eventually. 

“In Austria as athletes we have everything here. We have a team, we have a federation, we have ski clubs, and we have normal snow. We have perfect conditions and you can ski everywhere. What he showed us is really emotional. 

“I saw a documentary about Dave Ryding on Austrian TV and I was close to tears. I was like ‘really?’ and it gave me goose bumps. It is unbelievable because I’m not sure I would be able to have that love he has. For us it is normal to go skiing and it’s not hard to find snow. To ski on dryslopes it is really hard. I mean really!”

Hirscher reckons that Ryding has paved the way for other British skiers to follow his footsteps from dryslope to World Cup: “If you really want it, I think everything is possible and Dave’s story is telling us exactly this. For me it is hard to describe how everything starts because I’ve only skied once on dryslope in the Netherlands and it’s unbelievably hard.”

As Hirscher wrapped up all his media commitments on the day, you can’t help but feel it will be a while until someone else gets this sort of attention in the world of skiing. On the women’s side, Mikaela Shiffrin will probably carry on the responsibility of being the skier in the media spotlight. However, on the men’s tour there will definitely be a gap to fill once Hirscher eventually retires, that’s why we should appreciate watching the incredible technician at his best whilst we can.


If you want to check out Kitzbuhel, one of the most historic race resorts on the World Cup, why not ski with one of our Ski Club leaders in resort to show you around! To find out more click here.