Motivation sky-high despite accolades, insists Hirscher

Kitzbühel (Austria) (AFP) –


Austrian Marcel Hirscher insists that his motivation remains sky-high despite multiple accolades including seven consecutive overall World Cup globes, two Olympic golds and six world titles.

At 29, the Annaberg-born skier has dominated the men's technical events since making his World Cup debut in 2007 at the age of 18, leading many to label the Austrian among the best ever.

"It's not as if I have this feeling of smugness, that I'm completely satisfied with being world champion, Olympic winner and overall World Cup champion, as in, yeah, that was great, now I'm finished, the project is over, done and dusted," Hirscher said.

"The motivation for me is that I can be active in this sport at such a high level that I would never achieve in any other sport. Also, the real fascination has been and always will be the joy of racing.

"When I'm watching races afterwards I often ask myself: 'How did I do that? I could never ski like that when I was training'."

His record seven consecutive World Cup overall titles (and he is on pole for an eighth), based around 67 individual victories, have been the bedrock for a stellar career that has brought Hirscher fame and riches.

But there is a downside, with Hirscher admitting that his luxury was now his private life.

"You're aware of the fact that you're always being observed, at all times, doesn't matter where or when," he said in a wide-ranging interview with the Hahnenkamm race organisers.

"That often makes it challenging for you to be disciplined and in control, and to try to be a role model in every situation.

"I'd be presumptious to claim that I get anywhere near that."

- 'Getting all this loot' -

Hirscher, who has a string of well known -- and demanding -- sponsors, added: "It's deeply human when I recognise that in many areas of my life I am being directed by others. Every so often, more than is good for me.

"But then there is the opposite side when you say to yourself: 'Shut up, Hirscher, pull yourself together, you're getting all this loot, just make sure that you do your thing and don't complain."

Turning to Saturday's slalom, Hirscher, twice a winner on the Ganslernhang (2013, 2017), said he would be ready to take on Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen, winner in 2016 and 2018.

"If you're in the races at Kitzbuehel and you're going through to the second round as leader of the first round, and an audience of 40,000 is creating a real buzz, nobody can tell me that he wouldn't be ready for blast-off down to the fingertips," he said.

"It's those moments of tensions and motivation that make the effort worth it."

The Ganslern course, Hirscher added, was "really special".

"Hardly any two swings are alike up there," said the Austrian, who says he takes an hour a day to himself, "just me and my thoughts".

"That means it goes uphill, it hangs, then left, then right, all that's missing is going backwards!"