VIENNA (AP) — For once, ski racing fans in Austria have to switch on their TVs in prime time to see Marcel Hirscher live.
On Wednesday, however, they won’t see their hero trying to win yet another race. In fact, they probably never will again.
Hirscher, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and record eight-time overall World Cup champion, is set to reveal his future career plans at a media conference broadcast on national TV.
An invitation sent to media on Friday is labeled “Review, insight, preview. Marcel Hirscher update” and names the location of Wednesday’s event in Salzburg, but doesn’t elaborate.
While Hirscher, as usual, has refrained from public appearances and stayed quiet on his social media channels during the summer, several factors are hinting at retirement.
After wrapping up his unprecedented eighth overall championship in March, the same month he turned 30, Hirscher said he was in doubt about his future in the sport, unsure whether he was still hungry enough to chase for more titles.
The Austrian was expected to present his decision at his annual media day in early August, but he canceled the event just days before.
“The decision on my future is not an easy one for me,” he said at that time. “Should I ski through another World Cup season or not? I still haven’t made my final decision.”
Speculation about Hirscher’s future got new impetus from an Instagram post by Ted Ligety last Saturday.
The American, a long-term rival of Hirscher’s in the giant slalom, wrote he was working on his skiing technique, adding: “I’d tell you how but then @marcel__hirscher would want to come out of retirement,” although Ligety added the hashtags ”#itsaspeculativejoke #donttakeitliterally.”
Hirscher’s doubts about his future are not new.
In the off-season last year, after finally winning Olympic gold in PyeongChang, the only major prize missing from his victory list, he openly considered quitting the sport.
He married long-term girlfriend Laura Moisl and the pair had their first child, but Hirscher returned to the slopes in October for another World Cup season.
He ended up winning nine World Cup races to raise his career total to 67, trailing only Ingemar Stenmark (86) and Lindsey Vonn (82) on the all-time list.
Hirscher also won gold and silver at the world championship in Sweden in February for his 13th and 14th medal from a major championship, including nine golds.
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