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Marcel Hirscher eyes Zagreb slalom hat-trick in FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup

Marcel Hirscher is seeking a Zagreb hat-trick in his bid to overhaul Felix Neureuther in the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup slalom standings.

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The Austrian has triumphed in the Croatian capital the last two times a slalom race has been held there in January 2012 and 2013.

Hirscher is already the only man to have won in Zagreb twice and is attempting to achieve a second career slalom hat-trick having tasted victory in three successive years in Adelboden between 2012 and 2014.

The 25-year-old, the defending overall World Cup and slalom champion, has another target in mind in Tuesday's race as he trails Neureuther by just 24 points in the slalom leaderboard.

To do so, Hirscher must improve on a seventh-placed finish in the discipline's last race in Madonna di Campiglio on December 22.

Neureuther was the victor on that occasion and the German has proved remarkably consistent in slalom, reaching the podium in the discipline for the last eight races - dating back to last season.

Only five skiers have achieved nine consecutive slalom podiums and Hirscher admits it is going to be a tall order to prevent the 30-year-old from winning the slalom title come the end of the campaign.

"Felix is in the form of his life," Hirscher told Sport24. "I've seen the speed he's got at the moment in the slalom this season.

"If Felix can keep that going, and if he stays healthy, it could even be that he wins a ball."

Neureuther, who finished third in Levi and second in Are before his triumph in Madonna, can become the first German to win consecutive slalom races in 25 years, while he would be the first man since Hirscher in the 2012-13 campaign to podium in the first four races of the season.

But he will be aware that victory will not be easy considering the first three slalom races this term have produced different winners.

The likes of Neureuther's compatriot Fritz Dopfer and Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen - a winner in Levi - are among those hoping to challenge for victory in Zagreb.

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