Saturday, May 25, 2024

Downhill skiing | The most important questions and answers about Marcel Hirscher’s comeback under the Dutch flag

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In 2019, Marcel Hirscher retired as a skier, now five years later the Austrian returns and participates in competitions under the Dutch flag. Here are the top questions and answers about Hirscher’s sensational return.

Why did he decide to return?

“I stopped skiing five years ago. I am now 35 years old, so you can see my comeback. More than anything, I want the opportunity to race again. Simply because I like it,” Hirscher himself explained. Toni Giger Global Sports Manager at Red Bull, Hirscher’s biggest sponsor, also released a statement: “The most important thing is that he can experience his passion for competition again.” Although Giger does not yet know how long the comeback will last. “He’s going to start now, the rest will follow later.”

Why is Hirscher going to ski for the Netherlands?

It is not only due to the fact that mother Sylvia is from the Netherlands and Hirscher therefore also has Dutch nationality. It also has to do with young skiers from Austria. “Marcel doesn’t want to get in the way of young skiers who are just coming to watch,” according to Giger. “Marcel absolutely does not want any preferential treatment when it comes to designating starting places.” Because the Netherlands is not a traditional skiing country, it will not really get in anyone’s way, the lecture goes. In contrast, with Hirscher the sport in the Netherlands can get a huge boost. The chairman of the Dutch Ski Association spoke of it as an ‘absolute honor’. “Marcel is a global icon and an inspiration for winter sports enthusiasts in the Netherlands.

Which competitions will Hirscher participate in?

Due to regulations, Hirscher cannot immediately participate in the World Cup. He will first have to participate in the lower classes of the FIS. “Marcel starts with matches that are not broadcast on TV,” said Giger. Hirscher starts with a few races in New Zealand in August to gain some FIS points.

What chance does Hirscher have of competing in the World Cup again?

Hirscher still has a long way to go to achieve this. “If you know that you have to be in the top 150 to participate, that is a long way away,” according to Giger. But from a sporting point of view, one can expect that the two-time Olympic champion can compete in the World Cup. “It goes without saying that a man like him does not forget how to ski,” said Marko Pfeifer, president of the Austrian Ski Association. Hirscher simply has to ‘prepare well’ and ensure a low starting number through good results. “If he succeeds, I assume he will be back on the front row at the World Cup,” said Pfeifer. Mario Matt and André Myhrer, with Olympic gold as 34 and 35 year olds, are good examples that anything is possible at Hirscher’s age.

Which disciplines will Hirscher participate in?

He relies on his two best disciplines during his comeback. That is why competitions in slalom and giant slalom are planned. The Austrian won the World Cup six times in both disciplines, became Olympic champion in the giant slalom in 2018 and took silver in the slalom in 2014 in Sochi.

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Kitzbühel | Phenomenon ‘Hahnenkamm’ explained thanks to Hirscher and beautiful camera work

How and with whom does Hirscher train for his comeback?

Theoretically, Hirscher can use the Dutch ski infrastructure, which actually only consists of indoor ski halls. He will probably also train there a few times, but according to Giger he will mainly prepare in the Austrian Alps.

Will Hirscher participate in the Saalbach-Hinterglemm world championship in 2025?

The answer to that question remains open for now. Although the brand new Dutchman has a good chance of qualifying for the highlight of the season, due to there being little competition in the Netherlands and the lower requirements for qualifying at the world championships. If the form is good, Hirscher can certainly impress his home crowd in Salzburgerland.

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