Marcel Hirscher reached an unprecedented run of dominance in Alpine skiing history on Saturday.
The Austrian clinched his record-breaking sixth straight World Cup overall title with his 44th career World Cup victory in a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
He wrapped up the title, determined by accumulating results throughout the season, with five races left on the 36-race schedule. Hirscher couldn’t quite believe it when told of the news.
“You think so?” Hirscher said, still breathing heavily from his second run in the finish area. “Mathematics wasn’t my best program on school. Can you tell me why?”
Here’s why: Hirscher leads by 504 points with five races left. Winners receive 100 points per race, so second-place Kjetil Jansrud of Norway can’t catch Hirscher, even if Jansrud wins the rest of the races and Hirscher doesn’t ski again this season.
“That is not too bad, actually,” Hirscher said after it was explained to him.
Hirscher, who turned 28 on Thursday, now owns more World Cup overall titles than any man in history, breaking his tie with Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli.
Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell owns the women’s record of six overall titles, but they were not all in a row.
This only increases the pressure on Hirscher to deliver in PyeongChang. Hirscher captured individual world titles in 2013, 2015 and 2017, in different events each year, but lacks an Olympic gold medal.
He was upset in the 2014 Olympic slalom by countryman Mario Matt, taking silver.
“It is not always easy,” said Hirscher, who has five wins and eight runners-up in 15 standard World Cup slaloms and giant slaloms this season. “On the top, it is sometimes more a mind game than a physical game.”
This season, Hirscher leads the World Cup giant slalom and slalom standings and swept the events at the world championships last month. Hirscher reportedly spent days sick in bed at worlds before racing.
Consider that Hirscher missed world super combined gold by .01, and that Austria could be favored to win the new Olympic team event in 2018, and he could go for four gold medals in PyeongChang.
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