September 4, 2019 / 6:54 PM / 3 months ago

Austrian great Hirscher announces retirement

Austrian Alpine Ski Olympic and World Champion Marcel Hirscher announces his retirement during a news conference in Salzburg, Austria September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, one of the greatest ever Alpine skiers who won a record eighth consecutive overall World Cup title this year, announced his retirement on Wednesday, confirming what had become an open secret in the sport.

Hirscher, 30, a household name in ski-mad Austria, has dominated slalom and giant slalom for years but has also made no secret of the strain he has felt from travelling on the world circuit and the competitive pressure from younger skiers.

“Today is the day on which I will end my active career,” Hirscher told a news conference in Salzburg, the capital of his home province, broadcast live on national television.

The specially convened event prompted reports that after months of speculation about his career plans he would announce his retirement.

Hirscher won 67 World Cup races, the second highest in history and 19 short of the record held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark, and not even a broken ankle at the start of the 2017-18 season could interrupt his run of titles.

Despite his World Cup dominance, Hirscher had to wait until Pyeongchang last year to collect his first Olympic gold medals when he won the giant slalom and combined races.

Reporting by Francois Murphy, editing by Ed Osmond

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