Marcel Hirscher plans Alpine skiing return with the Netherlands

Marcel Hirscher plans Alpine skiing return with the Netherlands

Austrian Marcel Hirscher, who retired in 2019 while still the world's best male Alpine skier, plans to return to competition next season under the Dutch flag.

Hirscher, 35, said he wants to compete again because he enjoys it, according to a Dutch ski federation press release.

He is eligible to represent the Netherlands because his mother is Dutch. The Austrian ski federation announced Wednesday that it approved Hirscher's request to switch nationality.

Hirscher previously announced his retirement a month before the 2019-20 season, coming off his record-extending eighth consecutive World Cup overall title, extending his reign as the world's best all-around skier.

He said then, “I’m at the pinnacle. My body is a bit tired after 12 years. It’s a very decisive argument. And the fact, of course, that I wanted to leave as a champion.”

Hirscher earned two Olympic gold medals (giant slalom and combined in 2018), five individual world titles from 2013 to 2019 and 67 World Cup race victories, second in men's history behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark's 86.

The 2024-25 World Cup season is expected to begin in late October. By then, Hirscher will be older than any man or woman who has won a World Cup race in his primary events — slalom and giant slalom.

The best Dutch result in World Cup Alpine skiing was Marvin van Heek's eighth-place finish in a downhill in 2012.

Hirscher has not publicly announced whether he wants to compete at the next Olympics in 2026 in Italy.

Of the Netherlands' 147 all-time medals in the Winter Olympics, all but one has come on ice. The lone medal in a snow sport was Nicolien Sauerbreij's gold in snowboarding's parallel giant slalom in 2010, according to the OlyMADMen.