Marcel Hirscher

Marcel Hirscher compares pressure to crazy dogs who want to eat him

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What’s it like to be the best Alpine skier from the sport’s richest nation?

Ask the two-time reigning World Cup overall champion Marcel Hirscher, the top Austrian gold-medal hope going into the Sochi Olympics.

“If you’re standing in front of a big, big, huge wall, and you have no opportunity to climb up there, and then behind you, there are a hundred crazy dogs who want to eat you up, then you have to go for your life,” Hirscher, 24, told The Associated Press.

Austria has won 105 Olympic Alpine skiing medals, nearly twice as many as second-place Switzerland (56). The U.S. is fourth with 39.

But the land of Franz Klammer and Hermann Maier produced zero men’s Alpine medals at the 2010 Olympics.

The pressure is on Hirscher to deliver gold in Sochi. He’s the reigning world champion and World Cup champion in the slalom and a rival to Ted Ligety in the giant slalom.

No other Austrian man or woman led a World Cup discipline or won an individual world championships last season.

Hirscher will be looking to top the podium again Sunday, when the Alpine skiing World Cup visits Levi, Finland, for a slalom. Hirscher was third in the season-opening giant slalom (behind winner Ligety) in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27.

He took second to Swede Andre Myhrer in Levi last season.

Ligety, too, is slated to start in Levi. The American has obviously been working on his slalom.

Working on quick feet in a combo drill course. @gopro #hero3plus @head_ski @shredoptics

A video posted by Ted Ligety (@ted_ligety) on

Levi winners will get unusual prizes

Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky big winners at Team USA Awards

Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky
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Swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky were named the Male and Female Athletes of the Olympic Games at the Team USA Awards, which took place Wednesday evening at Georgetown University’s McDonough Arena in Washington, D.C.

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, claimed six medals in Rio to increase his Olympic medal total to 28.

Ledecky broke two world records on her way to winning four golds and one silver in Rio.

Other winners included:

Team of the Olympic Games: Final Five (women’s gymnastics)

Female Athlete of the Paralympic Games: Tatyana McFadden (track and field)

Male Athlete of the Paralympic Games: Brad Snyder (swimming)

Team of the Paralympic Games: Women’s sitting volleyball

The show will air on NBCSN on Oct. 4 from 10-11 p.m. ET.

MORE: Best photos from red carpet of the Team USA Awards

Best photos from red carpet of the Team USA Awards

Twitter: @TeamUSA
Twitter: @TeamUSA
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Swimmers Allison Schmitt and Elizabeth Beisel hosted the Team USA Awards Red Carpet Show live on Facebook from Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

The show will air on NBCSN on Oct. 4 from 10-11 p.m. ET.

In the meantime, here are photos from the red carpet:

400 free gold medalists 🏅 #teamusaindc @usaswimming @kledecky

A photo posted by Becca Meyers (@beccameyers20) on