February 7, 2018 / 9:14 AM / 8 months ago

Olympics-Alpine skiing-Gold hungry Hirscher to skip first team event

PYEONGCHANG, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Marcel Hirscher will almost certainly race in four events at the Pyeongchang Games in his quest for a first Olympic title but the inaugural team event will not be one of them, the Austrian said on Wednesday.

The most dominant skier of the modern era said he was "90 percent" certain to race in the Super G and combined events and was definitely going to take part in the slalom and giant slalom.

The team event makes its bow at the back end of the Olympic programme but the 28-year-old said the schedule would allow him insufficient time to get to Slovenia in good shape to resume his bid for a record seventh straight overall World Cup crown.

"It would be a big honour to start for Austria but... it is not possible to compete in this event," Hirscher told reporters at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre.

"Because if you do the team event, four days later you are back in Europe at Kranjska Gora in the giant slalom, no time for preparation, no time for recovery, no time for getting used to European time.

"So, it would be great to be there but if I'm professional, it is not possible."

Hirscher, whose tally of 55 World Cup wins is second only to Swede Ingemar Stenmark's record of 86, recovered from injury last year to resume his dominance of the World Cup circuit with 10 wins, seven in his pet event slalom.

His record at his previous two Olympics has been less impressive and he missed out on the medals in 2010 and had to settle for silver in the giant slalom in Sochi.

Hirscher said that although he was on a "mission" to finally win a gold in South Korea, he was going to make sure he enjoyed the experience as much as possible.

"The only thing I can do is have fun with this and see where I'm ending up after these Olympics," he said.

After his second training run on the Jeongseon Super G run, Hirscher said he had been struggling to get his set-up right on the "hard, aggressive" snow.

He was confident it would all come together in time for the competition, which gets underway on Sunday with the downhill.

"I'm tired, jetlagged but it's just the second day here so plenty of time to recover and be used to this time zone," he added.

"(We're) testing, testing, testing and playing with all the experience we have, the whole team and hoping we're making the right decisions when it comes to waxing, edging." (Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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