As he has done for most of this World Cup season, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher came out hot in the first run of the men’s slalom in Are, attempting to win his third world title in the event. But big events have not always worked out for the man ranked third on the all-time World Cup win list.
Hirscher’s body of work at events like the Olympics and world championships have, in the past, swung between the extremes of skiing superiority to disastrous mistakes. Thirty-two of Hirscher’s 68 career World Cup wins have come in slalom. He won his first slalom world championship title in 2013, but did not get his second until 2017. His attempt to win back-to-back titles in 2015 ended after he straddled a gate in the final run.
At the Olympics, Hirscher has not won a single slalom medal in three attempts. At the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, Hirscher shockingly fell in his opening run. He was skiing for his third gold medal in PyeongChang when he faltered.
Despite his career hiccups, there is no doubt that Hirscher is the most dominant slalom skier currently competing.
In Are, Hirscher made his statement early, slicing up the course, gaining speed as he rushed down the hill, posting a first run time that was well out of reach for the majority of the field.
NBC Sports’ Steve Porino pointed out many of the men were crossing the finish line completely “gassed,” gasping to catch their breath, indicating to Porino that many of them were exerting themselves in the flats, pushing off their skis at each turn to generate more speed.
None did it better than Hirscher.
The first run finished with Hirscher ahead of France’s Alexis Pinturault by a little more than a half second. Austria’s Marco Schwarz was nearly a full second and a half off the lead in third.
Skiing to just ahead of Hirscher in the second run, Pinturault showed he was gunning for the top podium spot. Pushing himself beyond his limit, Pinturault lost his balance mid-run, going down on the snow but quickly recovered to cross the finish line in third.
Hirscher now entered the start gate with just over a second and a half cushion. Once more he attacked the slalom course as if he were fighting from the back of the pack. Hirscher crossed the line to win his third world championship slalom title by more than two seconds.
“The first part I tried to push it really, really hard,” Hirscher said after the race. “There were two or three gates where it was bumpy, hopefully [I would] stay safe there and into the finish line.
“It is unbelievable, you know? After ’13, ’17 and now ’19, maybe my last world champs, finally get another gold medal.”
The 29-year-old Hirscher, who became a father back in October, has been forthcoming about his future in competitive Alpine racing, saying it’s “not the most important thing.”
It was an all-Austrian podium at the end of the day, with Hirscher’s countrymen Michael Matt winning silver and Marco Schwarz getting bronze. Although he made a remarkable recovery, Pinturault’s mistake cost him the podium, dropping the Frenchman to fourth.
Hirscher’s slalom win is the first gold medal for Austria at these world championships. Hirscher also won silver in giant slalom earlier in Are.
With the 2019 World Championships now complete, World Cup competition picks back up with both the men and women back on skis on Tuesday for a city event in Stockholm. The two tours split for the upcoming weekend with the men skiing in Bansko, Bulgaria as the women travel to the Swiss Alps region of Crans-Montana. Check out the full slate below for ways to watch on the networks of NBCSN and Olympic Channel on TV and streaming.
ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP — Stockholm, Sweden; Bansko, Bulgaria; Crans-Montana, Switzerland
|Tuesday||11:30 a.m.||City Event – Stockholm||Olympic Channel||Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold|
|11:30 p.m.||City Event – Stockholm*||NBCSN|
|Friday||3:30 a.m.||Men’s Combined (Run 1)||OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold|
|7:00 a.m.||Men’s Combined (Run 2)||Olympic Channel||Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold|
|Saturday||4:15 a.m.||Women’s Downhill||Olympic Channel||Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold|
|5:45 a.m.||Men’s Super-G||Olympic Channel||Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold|
|Sunday||3:30 a.m.||Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1)||OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold|
|4:30 a.m.||Women’s Combined (Run 1)||OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold|
|6:30 a.m.||Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2)||Olympic Channel||Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold|
|7:30 a.m.||Women’s Combined (Run 2)||Olympic Channel||Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold|
|10:30 p.m.||Women’s Combined (Run 2)*||NBCSN|