PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Austrian Marcel Hirscher urged Olympic organizers not to scrap the Alpine skiing combined event in which he won his first gold medal on Tuesday but suggested tweaking the format.
The combined consists of a downhill run and a slalom with the winner being the racer with the fastest aggregate time, but the International Ski Federation (FIS) is considering dropping the event.
The sport’s ruling body is leaning toward running more parallel races where skiers compete at the same time, which are growing in popularity on the World Cup circuit.
Hirscher believes the combined event should be kept but that the downhill section could be replaced by a super-G so racers would not have to spend so much time practicing on pure speed courses.
“It is not good to do away with this discipline, which has a lot of history,” said Hirscher, who won Tuesday’s event at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre by 0.23 seconds.
“It would be better, especially during the World Cup season, to make it with super-G because then it costs you just one day.
“With downhill it costs you at least four days - three training days and then race day. I can’t do this because I need my training during the week in the technical disciplines.”
For now, the combined remains on the FIS’s draft World Cup calendar for the next two seasons, a spokeswoman for the ruling body said, but the plan is to move toward replacing it with parallel events by the 2021 world championships.
The combined event’s Olympic future remains unclear.
Silver medallist Alexis Pinturault of France echoed Hirscher, telling reporters the combined was special because it determines the best overall skier.
“Combined is a historic discipline,” he said.
“It is going to be a shame if they decide to stop this discipline in the future and in the next Olympics.
“It’s the only discipline where the best downhill guys can compete against the best tech guys,” Pinturault added.
Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Ed Osmond