Hirscher leads Austrian sweep of podium in slalom at ski worlds
Alpine star coasts to victory on strength of big 1st run
If this was to be Marcel Hirscher's last race at the skiing world championships, the Austrian great sure put on a show.
Hirscher produced what he described as one of the best runs of his trophy-laden 12-year career, allowing him to coast to victory in the second leg of the slalom and lead an Austrian 1-2-3 in the final race of the two-week championships.
It might be his last, too.
"It is unbelievable," Hirscher said, somewhat tantalizingly, "after 2013, 2017, now '19, maybe my last world champs, to finally get to have another gold medal."
The Austrians ended up with three medals, with Michael Matt and Marco Schwarz taking silver and bronze, respectively.
WATCH | Hirscher claims slalom gold at world championships:
Montreal's Simon Fournier finished 24th to follow up his 30th-place result in Friday's giant slalom event.
"It was definitely a battle this morning and I think it rewarded everyone that fought through that first course," said Fournier. who was making his world championships debut this week in Sweden.
"It's a great experience overall [to compete at worlds]. It's a big learning experience in terms of a new feel, the different venue where you're expected to perform a little bit more. It's important to fight for everything."
Another top-30 for <a href="https://twitter.com/SimFrossignol?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SimFrossignol</a> in his first World Champs, as he finishes 24th in Sunday's slalom.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CANSkiTeam?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CANSkiTeam</a> closes <a href="https://twitter.com/Are2019?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Are2019</a> with 4 top-10 results (<a href="https://twitter.com/RoniRemme?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RoniRemme</a> - Combined; <a href="https://twitter.com/BenjaminThomsen?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BenjaminThomsen</a> - DH; Laurence St-Germain & <a href="https://twitter.com/erinmielzynski?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@erinmielzynski</a> - SL) and a T9 in the team event.<br>📸 GEPA <a href="https://t.co/mC2Hdqw5sr">pic.twitter.com/mC2Hdqw5sr</a>—@Alpine_Canada
Hirscher keeps getting asked how long he will continue his reign as the most successful male ski racer of this generation. He is on 68 World Cup wins — 18 off the record of Stenmark — and next month could win his eighth straight overall World Cup title.
Add the seven world golds — as part of a collection of nine world medals — and two Olympic gold medals, and Hirscher can retire a happy man. Whenever that may be.
Hirscher destroyed the field with an almost flawless first run that gave him a lead of 0.56 seconds from Alexis Pinturault of France. No other skier was within a second of the lead and Hirscher told Austria's domestic broadcaster, ORF, that it was one of his best ever runs.
That meant Hirscher could be more circumspect in the second leg — especially after a slip from Pinturault toward the end of his run that knocked the Frenchman into third place at the time and out of medal contention — and get down safely.
He did just that, posting only the 25th fastest time for the second leg.
He didn't need to go any quicker.
Hirscher has been suffering with a cold this week. He was second to Henrik Kristoffersen in the giant slalom on Friday, and said after that race he was going straight back to bed to rest up ahead of the slalom.
"[I] want to thank my whole team because they made this possible," Hirscher said. "They worked really hard to bring me here to the starting gate so thanks for that."
With files from CBC Sports