HomeSportsMarcel Hirscher plans Alpine skiing return with the Netherlands

Marcel Hirscher plans Alpine skiing return with the Netherlands


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Austrian Marcel Hirscher, who retired in 2019 while still the world’s best male Alpine skier, plans to return to competition next season under the Dutch flag.

Hirscher, 35, said he wants to compete again because he enjoys it, according to a Dutch ski federation press release.

“My understanding is that the last couple of years, he was always thinking about it,” said Patrick Riml, the ski racing director at Red Bull, Hirscher’s sponsor. “Then he decided on very, very short notice that he really wants to do this.”

He is eligible to represent the Netherlands because his mother is Dutch. The Austrian ski federation announced Wednesday that it approved Hirscher’s request to switch nationality, which must also be approved by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Riml said that Hirscher plans to enter lower-level FIS races in New Zealand in August to get the necessary points to return to the World Cup circuit and that his main aim is to compete at next season’s world championships in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria.

“He’s been training the whole season. He’s been on snow pretty much every day of the winter testing his equipment,” Riml said, adding that Hirscher plans to compete in both slalom and giant slalom.

So can he still compete at the highest level?

“He was amazing when he was racing, he was the best one out there,” Riml told The Associated Press. “Marcel is Marcel.”

Hirscher previously announced his retirement a month before the 2019-20 season, coming off his record-extending eighth consecutive World Cup overall title, extending his reign as the world’s best all-around skier.

He said then, “I’m at the pinnacle. My body is a bit tired after 12 years. It’s a very decisive argument. And the fact, of course, that I wanted to leave as a champion.”

Hirscher earned two Olympic gold medals (giant slalom and combined in 2018), five individual world titles from 2013 to 2019 and 67 World Cup race victories, second in men’s history behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark’s 86.

The 2024-25 World Cup season is expected to begin in late October. By then, Hirscher will be older than any man or woman who has won a World Cup race in his primary events — slalom and giant slalom.

The best Dutch result in World Cup Alpine skiing was Marvin van Heek’s eighth-place finish in a downhill in 2012.

Hirscher has not publicly announced whether he wants to compete at the next Olympics in 2026 in Italy.

“It’s hard to predict anything right now,” Riml said. “We just have to see how things are going. It’s a step by step process. … The goal right now is to get back on track, train hard and get some first races and then see where he’s at. … Right now the goal is this season. But then then you never know, right?”

Of the Netherlands’ 147 all-time medals in the Winter Olympics, all but one has come on ice. The lone medal in a snow sport was Nicolien Sauerbreij’s gold in snowboarding’s parallel giant slalom in 2010, according to the OlyMADMen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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