The Mountain Studio co-founder Marcel Hirscher tells us in his own words, why he decided to ski the Hahnenkamm downhill for the first time in his life.
There's news! Big news. Or should I say steep?
At the 82nd Hahnenkamm race, I will be tackling the Streif… as a forerunner. I've ridden the Super-G in Kitzbühel several times, but never the full length of the descent. That'll change this weekend!
What excites me most about my Streif adventure? Apart from the pure speed and the rhythm of the descent, I'm particularly interested to see how I'll find the contrast between racing and deep-snow skiing, as I've been doing the latter more and more recently.
Skiing is still a big part of my life. I'd even say that skiing is more fun than ever! I go skiing when it suits me, when I enjoy it and feel like it – preferably in deep snow. As a hobby athlete now, I'm completely free in my decisions. So free that I thought to myself: 'Actually, once in my life I could at least ski down the Streif at a race-like pace. That would be cool!' And what better time than now? Said and done. Although it wasn't that easy…
Let's start at the beginning: because I'm not really in a race training routine anymore and I'm not in the same physical shape I was during my professional career, it was necessary to define my Streif project in advance and to approach it slowly. It's not a small challenge, but it is a very nice one, which I now want to be able to experience and master. It's also a great privilege for me as a technology expert to be able to get to know downhill skiing a bit more intensively now that I've had some time after my active career. That's all great fun.
So, instead of the backcountry, I suddenly found myself on the ski racetrack. In my head, I immediately compared it to motocross riding, which I also do in my free time: it's like switching from being on the MX machine to riding a MotoGP™ bike at the Red Bull Ring. Or, to stay with skiing, all of a sudden I'm going from the zig-zag hacking of slalom, where centimetres are important, to what feels like free descent, where metres are important. The feeling of releasing the skis and being in the flow of the elements and nature is great and worth all the effort.
A dream realized
So now for downhill! What does that even mean? For me, as a former slalom skier, it's a novelty that the gates on the descent are just markers that show me roughly where to go and the rest is determined by the route alone. The descent isn't so much of an obstacle course, where you have to worry about whether you can get through at all. The feeling is much more pleasant – you're part of the track, not its opponent.
To cut a long story short: skiing down the Streif is super-exciting for me. Gliding through such long stretches is a big change. You have to concentrate on completely different things than in slalom. So that I don't miss any details during the switch, I divided the Streif into three sections at the beginning:
- The start and the Startschuss
- The middle section with the Seidlalm
- The Hausbergkante and Zielschuss
At first I approached these three sections individually, but I ended up stringing them all together to fulfill another dream. It was amazing how quickly in the preparation for my Streif adventure that I got back into the exact same old patterns I was in during World Cup times. Even the setup was the same: 5:30am alarm clock, long journey, on-site, warm up, preparation, training, pressure, stress, driving home in the afternoon, cycling, fitness training, therapy, eat, sleep, repeat. And here I have to be honest, as nice as this experience has been again, going through this daily routine again just showed me how satisfied I am with my decision not to actively participate on the racing circuit any more.
This time I'm at the start for the first time to have fun, not to be fast
Just like back then, my team included my dad, Ferdl, my physio Alexander Fröis and my fitness trainer Gernot Schweizer. My brother and the entire Van Deer crew were new. The latter, as my short downhill adventure also showed, still have a lot of work and a lot of testing to do with athletes on our downhill skis. But here, too, as a new ski brand, I have to say: working on your own skis is a big challenge, but a great one that fills me with pride. I think it's great that we had the courage to take this step. Now the team has to go the extra mile in order to be able to create the perfect ski for every discipline.
With this in mind, I'm saying goodbye and I'm really looking forward to racing towards another dream as part of the 82nd Hahnenkamm race on the long skis. Although – and I mean this seriously for the first time in my life – this time I'm at the start to have fun, not to be fast.
Enjoy the weekend in Kitzbühel!
See the video at redbull.com, click here
This text first appeared in The Red Bulletin.