This season in skiing, all the talk has been regarding Lindsey Vonn's quest to pass Ingemar Stenmark as the most successful racer of all time.
Taken into consideration the early retirement of Vonn through injury, Stenmark's 86 World Cup race wins remains the benchmark. But perhaps there is another measure of greatness. How about being at the top in the business for eight years running?
If so, Marcel Hirscher of Austria is already the best ski racer of history. The 29-year-old has 68 wins and counting. He is closing in on an unprecedented eighth straight World Cup overall crown for the skier who amasses the most points across all disciplines over the season.
By comparison, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, double Olympic champion Stenmark -- a Swedish icon alongside tennis great Bjorn Borg only won the overall title three times.
So while the name of Hirscher may not transcend skiing in the way which Vonn has for any number of cultural and sociological reasons. He deserves to be recognized as one of the sport's greatest exponents.
Veteran head of the Austrian Ski Federation, Peter Schrocksnadel, in Kitzbuhel said that at the annual Hahnekamm races in January, he would place him in the same range as Stenmark.
Hirscher is a technical expert like Stenmark, excelling in the rhythmic dance of slalom and giant slalom despite the brute power and bravado of the speed events.
His poise under pressure, and capability to find speed even on the most intricate of courses are legendary. His nearest rival in current seasons, Henrik Kristoffersen, can attest to the almost supernatural power of Hirscher's second-run charges.
He has again been stellar in this season, trading regular victories with fellow phenom Mikaela Shiffrin, who could yet eclipse everybody.
But Hirscher is marching inexorably towards Stenmark's total tally with 10 wins so far this term.
At World Championships of February in Sweden, Hirscher won his third slalom title for a record-equaling seventh world crown in all disciplines.
Hirscher has been a bona fide superstar for years back home in skiing-mad Austria. As a product of his millennial generation, he has a wide social media fan base, following his life in skiing, fitness, car racing, motorbikes and beyond. He even has his own magazine called "Heroes."
By: Preeti Narula