Marcel Hirscher dominates to win third slalom world title

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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.

Full results are here.

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

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
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

*Same-day delay

Mikaela Shiffrin proving she’s in league of her own

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There are ski racers, and then there is Mikaela Shiffrin.

NBC Sports essayist Tim Layden calls Shiffrin the “rarest creature,” a prodigy who continues to get better with age.

Shiffrin’s stardom took off with her heart-stopping slalom gold medal in the 2014 Olympics. It looked like she would ascend to an even higher level four years later in PyeongChang when she claimed a gold medal in the giant slalom, but then she lost a battle with her nerves and failed to win a medal in the slalom. She did capture a silver in the combined event.

That Olympic disappointment has fueled her historic World Cup season. She became the youngest skier to pass the 50 win mark. She broke the women’s career record for slalom victories, and she became the first skier ever to win four-straight world championship titles in a single event.

A true prodigy indeed.

Mikaela Shiffrin makes history with fourth-straight slalom world championship win

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Set to ski ahead of her two fastest competitors from run one, Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener and Sweden’s Anna Swenn-Larsson, the U.S.’ Mikaela Shiffrin, who had fought through violent coughing fits in her first run, was pulled aside by her mom to say it was O.K. if she didn’t ski her second.

“My mom said to me before the second run, ‘You don’t have to do this,'” Shiffrin said. “I was coughing so hard that my stomach was in spasms, and I couldn’t breathe, and then I kept coughing more.

“At what point do you say, No, I can’t do 60 seconds of skiing. I’m out here. I want to do it and whether I win or not, I just wanted to try. And when she said, You don’t have to, then I was sure that I wanted to.”

Skiing for her record-setting fourth consecutive world slalom title, Shiffrin went all-in, raising the stakes in the two-run race and crossed the finish in first, taking over the top spot by more than a second.

After completing her fight with her body and the mountain, Shiffrin collapsed to the snow, coughing and gasping to catch her breath.

With the final outcome now out of her control, Shiffrin watched, hoping her lead would hold.

Swenn-Larsson followed Shiffrin, but was unable to find the speed to knock Shiffrin out of first. Despite missing the top spot by .62 hundredths of a second, Swenn-Larsson was greeted like a champion by the home crowd as she won the first medal for Sweden at these world championships.

Holdener was next on course, but just moments into her run, it became clear Shiffrin would prevail. Making her 11th turn on course, Holdener came off a gate wide and was forced to hit the brakes. Holdener would finish her second run well off the pace set by Shiffrin, falling all the way to 17th.

Full results are here.

“I knew I had to fight really hard the second run because Anna and Wendy are so strong,” a tearful Shiffrin told NBC Sports after her run. “The girls behind me were also really close. I just figured I have to be tough and try it and I just need 60 seconds to push, and I can do that for 60 seconds.”

Shiffrin gets her second win of these world championships. Her first came in the first race of the event, the Super-G. Shiffrin was also on the giant slalom podium, winning bronze in the same discipline in which she leads her competitors by a considerable margin on the World Cup points list.

The 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships wraps up in Are tomorrow morning with the men’s slalom. Watch the first run live at 5:00 a.m. ET on TV and streaming on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold, with an encore presentation on NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET. The second run gets started at 8:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold.