Marcel Hirscher: Skier recalls 'scary' season after drone incident

Story highlights

  • Marcel Hirscher nearly hit by a drone
  • Has watched video of incident 'a thousand times'
  • Austrian won fifth straight World Cup title Wednesday
  • Skier, 27, labels season 'scary' and 'weird'

(CNN)He may have hit the heights by winning an unprecedented fifth straight World Cup Wednesday, but Marcel Hirscher's season means he is still haunted by the prospect of the heights hitting him.

The Austrian had a famously lucky escape mid-term when he was inches away from being struck by a drone, weighing at least 8.5 kilograms, that literally fell out of the sky.
    It was all part of a season he describes as 'scary' and 'weird', despite his historic achievement.
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    While no male skier had ever won more than three consecutive World Cups prior to Hirscher, the latter's five-straight matches the best total previously achieved -- by legendary Luxembourger Marc Girardelli between 1985 and 1993.
    Hirscher could have suffered unimaginable injury had he skied just a fraction slower in Italy on December 22 after the drone crashed to the ground just meters behind him.
    This might explain why he has watched the incident time and again.
    "A thousand times," he told CNN's Alpine Edge show. "Because I needed to watch it to realize what happened. It was more than a close call. It was a lucky, lucky, lucky moment."
    Subsequently drones have been banned by the International Ski Federation for broadcasting purposes, which has come as huge relief to Hirscher. "I'm really glad about it," said the Austrian.
    The drone near miss was part of a roller coaster season for Hirscher. A few days before he was nearly hit by the drone, his Atomic Redsters skis were stolen from the finish area after a race in Alta Badia, Italy.
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    The following month, his goggles fogged up seconds into a run in his native Austria after a technician prepared them wrongly by placing the protective coating on the wrong side.
    "The whole season was sometimes not fun. It was scary: stolen skis, fallen drones, wrong (lenses) in my goggles, further on some windy parts," added Hirscher.
    "Nearly no race worked out regular or normal. That was weird. All in all, so many things. What next?"
    "It was an unusual season, but I went for it and tried my best.
    "It was a hard fight. I am not used to winning five globes in a row. It was a really crazy season."

    Everybody be cool this is a robbery - we are missing a pair of very special #redster skis! Who grabbed Marcel Hirscher's ski from the finish area in Alta Badia? Please bring them back! #wearemissingsomething

    Posted by ATOMIC SKIING on Sunday, December 20, 2015
    His fifth World Cup means he now ranks above, among others, skiing legends Pirmin Zurbriggen of Switzerland and fellow Austrian Hermann Maier, both of whom could "only" muster four World Cup titles.
    "I grew up pretty simple and never expected that I would be part of the World Cup racing tour, or be a professional skier -- never," explained Hirscher.
    "For me, at the beginning, it was just a really big success to be part of the regional ski team.
    "Then, when I reached this goal, I planned new goals and the next step was stepping up to the juniors. Then the next step was the Europa Cup. So always step-by-step and not dreaming two steps forward."
    Now, however, he is looking two years forward. While his trophy cabinet may be bulging, there is one notable void -- an Olympic gold medal.
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    In Sochi two years ago, Hirscher took silver in the slalom, to follow on from a fifth place at Vancouver 2010.
    "For sure, that's going to be one big goal for me in the next two years," he said.
    "If I can win it, it would be a really big success for me. But if not, I think my career has definitely been a good one.
    "I want to ski at the Olympics as fast as I can, but having a really heavy backpack (weight) on my shoulders -- that I have to win this gold medal -- that won't make it so easy."
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