Austrian ski star and 2011-­‐12 overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher will race at the third edition of Alpine Rockfest on December 20th.

Hirscher’s dynamic, aggressive, go-­‐for-­‐broke racing style should suit the Rockfest format well, where racers compete over multiple elimination runs on a challenging sprint GS course at Paganella Ski Area in the Italian Dolomites.

“I’m very excited about the Alpine Rockfest because Paganella rocks and I like the idea of mixing sports and entertainment,” said Hirscher. “It’s no average ski race, I’m no average ski racer so that seems to fit like hands in a glove.”

Hirscher, 23, is the current World Cup leader having finished third at the season-­‐opening GS in Sölden, Austria on October 28 and improving upon that with a second-­‐place result at the opening slalom in Levi, Finland on November 11.

At Rockfest, Hirscher will headline the star-­‐studded field along with his friendly rival and 2011 champion, Ted Ligety.

“My strategy for every race is the same – to be the first to the finish line,” said Hirscher. “But Ted Ligety’s peformance in GS has been exceptional and he is the one to beat. I accept that challenge.”

Last winter, Hirscher took the Alpine ski racing world by storm overcoming enormous pressure with a clutch performance at World Cup Finals in Schladming, Austria to claim the sport’s greatest honor – an overall World Cup title. He became the first Austrian to win a season title since Benjamin Raich accomplished the feat in 2006.

“Marcel Hirscher is one of the most exciting new stars on the World Cup and a true champion,” said Event organizer, Phil McNichol. “The world will be thrilled to see Marcel attack the 2012 Alpine Rockfest course, where victory from run-­‐to-­‐run is only separated by mere 100th’s. He will be the World Cup overall champion to beat.”

The young Austrian superstar, who has already amassed 12 career World Cup victories, competed at the inaugural Rockfest event in 2009 against fellow previous World Cup champions Carlo Janka, Aksel Lund Svindal and Bode Miller.

This time, Hirscher joins Svindal (NOR), Miller (USA), Ligety (USA), Max Blardone (ITA), Cyprien Richard (FRA), Philipp Schoerghofer (AUT), Marcel Mathis (AUT), Ondrej Bank (CZE) and Jon Olsson (SWE) in the highly talented field.

Alpine Rockfest is a free, televised sports entertainment festival featuring the world’s best skiers in an exhibition race with a rock music concert.

“I’m really looking forward to the 20th of December,” said Hirscher. “For me and the ski fans, Alpine Rockfest is like a pre-­‐Christmas present – top level sports action mixed with a party, bands and fun. What more can you ask for.”

The ski race format is Sprint Giant Slalom, complete with a heart-­‐thumping jump over the new Audi A3 Sportback. Competitors race through elimination rounds in pursuit of the largest single cash prize in Ski Racing: €70,000. Past winners have been French star Cyprien Richard in 2009, collecting €108,000 in winnings and American sensation Ted Ligety, the 2011 Alpine Rockfest Champion, with winnings of €60,000.

Currently broadcasted as a two-­‐hour live program on EuroSport as well as numerous national networks around the world. Broadcasting continues throughout the winter producing more than 1,000 hours of global television coverage.

General admission to the Alpine Rockfest is free. Event venue is located at the mid-­‐station of the Paganella 2001 Olympic ski run. Best access is via the Gondola, either on foot or with skis. Paganella Ski is offering lift tickets for €10.00 or free with your FISI license.