Hirscher helps Austria to gold medal in team event at worlds

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VAIL, Colo. (AP) — Sometime soon, Austrian skier Eva-Maria Brem wants to see the team event included in the Olympics as a medal competition.

Of course she does. Her country is always on the podium.

Marcel Hirscher helped top-seeded Austria hold off Canada and defend its gold medal in the team event at the world championships on Tuesday. The Austrians won the final 3-1 over Canada, which was seeded No. 10. Sweden earned the bronze medal by beating Switzerland.

Austria has now won three golds and two silvers since the event became part of worlds in 2005. The only time the first country of skiing didn't win a medal was 2009 — when the event was canceled.

The International Ski Federation is trying to get the discipline included as a medal event in the Olympics. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach recently hinted there may be "some good news in the next couple of months" in regard to the event being added to the Olympic program.

"I think the public likes it," Brem said. "For us, it's something different."

This event is the only team-style competition at worlds. It's a bracket tournament in which two men and two women from each country compete head-to-head in a parallel slalom race. Win and that nation advances. Lose and that nation is knocked out.

An American team led by Olympic gold medalists Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Sweden. Julia Mancuso was on the roster, but didn't race in any of the rounds. Instead, the team went with Paula Moltzan.

"It would've been nice to make it a little farther than this," Ligety said. "It's tough, something we don't really train a lot of."

If Ligety had his way, the event wouldn't be held in the middle of the championships. He would move it to the final day.

"It would be really cool if they made it on Sunday, so everybody could make a good push for their normal events and then everybody could really concentrate on this rather than save energy for their other events," Ligety said.

In addition to Hirscher, the Austrians went with Brem, Michaela Kirchgasser and Christoph Noesig.

Kirchgasser captured a bronze in the Alpine combined the day before. Hirscher won gold in the men's Alpine combined.

Big underdogs, Canada kept surprising nation after nation to make its way into the final. The team that took the course for Canada consisted of Candace Crawford, Erin Mielzynski, Phil Brown and Trevor Philp.

"It feels good to stand on the podium," Mielzynski said.

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